It feels like cheating whenever I review Japanese manga because: A) I know very little of the art form--hell, I've read hardly any of my own country'sIt feels like cheating whenever I review Japanese manga because: A) I know very little of the art form--hell, I've read hardly any of my own country's comics; B) The text is originally written in another language, so any linguistic criticism would fall on the translator and therefore be nigh pointless.
So, Okay, I tell myself; I'll just base my opinion on what I can criticize, and weigh those things more heavily!
Well, I have no problem saying that All You Need Is Kill is pretty much perfect at everything it attempts. It's short, but dense with exposition and emotion. The poet in me absolutely loves that no word is wasted--not even the odd opening lines about green tea. And the story... oh man.
All You Need Is Kill's most impressive feat by far is how it's a perfect example of how to do a tragedy. The conflict is presented in a way that forces the audience to empathize with its helplessness while accepting its repudiation. There's no anger or doubt when you turn the last page. There's no, "But (s)he could have..." You're just left with tears in your eyes and an awe for the privilege you've been given.
The fact that this story's two parts can be read in probably a little over an hour (if you ignore the pictures--you monster), makes me wish I could show All You Need Is Kill to college writing professors around the US ... and then audit the class when it's discussed.
Every time I read one of these acclaimed Japanese mangas or short stories, I find myself asking why the hell I'm not reading more....more
I gave it a second and a third chance because I have become a massive Patrick Rothfuss fanboy. I love The KingkillerI am… ambivalent about this book.
I gave it a second and a third chance because I have become a massive Patrick Rothfuss fanboy. I love The Kingkiller Chronicles and The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. I love watching him play D&D. I’ve read and listened to enough of his blogs on writing theory to qualify for a credit at the University of Wisconsin. I was delighted to hear about an entire novella devoted to The Kingkiller Chronicles’ enigmatic manic pixy girl.
That being said, this book has issues.
The low-hanging fruits are addressed already in the book’s endnote, so I won’t mention any of those. What Rothfuss doesn’t address is the way (I believe) The Slow Regard of Silent Things breaks one of his most important rules.
As Rothfuss has said, and I’m (quite liberally) paraphrasing, “When authors start repeating things, readers start skimming. So I’m gonna say it once and if you’re not paying attention, if you miss it: that’s on you.” Good writing is about building that trust in which the reader knows their storyteller respects their time and their intelligence. It’s the heart of that four century old quote, “brevity is the soul of wit”.
The Slow Regard of Silent Things doesn’t really have any objectives or MacGuffins, so there are none to abuse by repetition. Instead, the story breaks the rule in a way which is almost unfair to criticize because, in all honesty, there was no way it couldn’t, once it gave a third-person limited narration to a character with such strange and assorted neuroses.
All of this story’s repetition and word-waste are product of the (admittedly, masterfully portrayed) obsessive-compulsion and schizophasia of Auri. As conflicted and as guilty as it made me feel to do it during moments of exposition that simultaneously developed character, Mr. Rothfuss, I found your novella rather skimmable....more
It's been a while since I read the book, so I can't cite nearly so many specifics as I would wish, but I can at least summarize a few points of opinioIt's been a while since I read the book, so I can't cite nearly so many specifics as I would wish, but I can at least summarize a few points of opinion.
So far it seems all books of the Sword Art Online series are intended to be read in pairs, and, to a lesser extent, the pairs can be considered one story. The story of Aincrad, I feel, was significantly stronger than the story of Fairy Dance.
Aincrad considered the anthropology of current "gamer" culture and postulated from it a terrifying scenario suited to its strongest elements of philosophy and psychology--the (Death Game). I wonder if the profundities were unintentional or undesired, considering Reki went from Aincrad to Fairy Dance after doing little more than saying, "Hey, imagine this. Wouldn't it be cool?" Nonetheless, Aincrad left me expecting an grander designs beyond.
Fairy Dance is your basic story of hero saves heroine. The (Death Game) is over, and although the virtual reality medium hints at a new conflict of ethics and humanity, this goes unpracticed throughout both light novels. Luckily, all of the characters we loved in the first story make their return, and by the end I couldn't help but say, "Okay, this was worth my time."...more
I don't think I've had so many things to say about a book in a long time. The Name of the Wind, if nothing else, would make aOh man. Where to begin...
I don't think I've had so many things to say about a book in a long time. The Name of the Wind, if nothing else, would make an excellent book to dissect in English class--assuming there is an English class out there which actually recognizes fantasy as literature. The Name of the Wind is rife with examples of what to do, what not to do, and how to take an otherwise good example too far when writing. Despite my mixed feelings towards the book's lasting value, I would certainly recommend it to someone thinking of publishing--again, assuming they are fantasy-tolerant.
One thing I'd like to address, before I get into my own comments on the book. The foremost complaints non grata to this book is how Kvothe is a "Larry Stu". As though other authors on the modern market have done a much better job hiding it by making Harry Potter struggle in potions class or binding him with morals. Perhaps I'm a little jaded from reading too much fanfic or watching too much Doctor Who, or maybe I'm just so narcissistic that the Jacques of All Trades archetype just seems normal at this point... Your guy is such a supergenius that he deciphered this dude's shorthand in an hour? Whatever. "Skill" is just a formula of intelligence and time. So your guy is the smartest man alive. Okay, now let's see how you interest me.
...But even that wasn't necessary. Just as I was beginning to say, "Well, crap; looks like the people on goodreads were right. There is no redemption," I realized something.
The story is told from Kvothe's point of view, and Kvothe is an insecure sonofabitch. The book is using an Unreliable Narrator. Or at least that's what I'm saying, because it helps me sleep at night. Unfortunately, even then there's the issue that Kvothe is not a very likeable character and so it's slightly awkward to sit with him as he tells his story.
My biggest complaint is that the book's pacing is tough. Short chapters packed with exposition means the book is deceptively easy to pick up, but heavily weighted as well. It neither helped that some of Rothfuss' greatest stages were designed to self destruct. -Bad Guy gets introduced early on by disciplining Lieutenant Meany in front of the hero, literally upon the smoking ground where he'd, moments ago, murdered the hero's parents. As if this doesn't scream cliché personified! the bad guy's face is obscured by literal shadows. -An awesome--truly, friggin awesome--love story between two ancient warriors is told. And then their story becomes goddamned Star Wars. -The (maybe only?) religion in the story has its origins explained and it's pretty much Christianity with the slightest alterations. It's Ychristianit. -Everyone gets high fantasy names complete with x's, v's, and z's thrown in. Thank you, fantasy, for your continued efforts to preserve our alphabet. Although Name of the Wind does make an effort in continuity anthropologically, creating the Siaru(?) culture/language, there is the matter that everyone else is speaking English, and using a carbon copy of English history, and the Edema Ruh are obviously just Romanians... which just again makes me question originality. -The miniboss. The well-off, pretty peer/rival of near age--preferably a bit older to add that much more adversity over the protagonist. Except even this is more acerbic than normal as our "good guy" is nearly always getting the better of him. In strategy, in dialogue, Kvothe wins.
And then there is Denna. Denna goes into a category of her own, just as Rothfuss wants her.
I suppose it's only fitting, after being trapped in the entire book as a cliche, that I cannot find the best analogy for Denna. Imagine a person afflicted by the most grotesque plague imaginable, and imagine this person has such a fortitude that she cannot die to plague. And though she is not disfigured by it, neither will her body fight it off. Her Nature is so good that she goes from town to town helping the sick, grieving with the families; never knowing why everything seems to die around her.
Denna is this pale rider--except instead of town-to-town, she travels page-to-page, ruining any scene she touches and shocking the earth itself below her so that nothing grows. It's not Denna's fault, but by god I was ready to strangle the poor girl just to save the words around her name from pain of death.
After all of this you may be wondering: Why give the book any stars at all? Why your intro? What stings most about The Name of the Wind is that Rothfuss is capable of some truly beautiful moments of description and, although the majority of his witticisms are nauseating, there are several quoteworthy lines in the book. I even added one (attributed to Denna, no less) when I couldn't find it on goodreads. In fact I plan to read his second book because there's just that much going on beneath the dull facade of the plot so far....more
The loveliest thing I've read since Shakespearean tragedy.
I remember picking up the novel version of this book at a Barnes & Noble, turning to a cThe loveliest thing I've read since Shakespearean tragedy.
I remember picking up the novel version of this book at a Barnes & Noble, turning to a chapter near the middle, and shortly putting the book down in favour of something else because "It read like a screenplay", like it was never intended for the borders and bindings of a book but for a franchise within the bindings of a contract like Twilight or the later Harry Potter series. Thankfully, I hardly knew who Neil Gaiman was then. Only that he wrote for two of my favourite movies, Mirror Mask and of course Stardust.
This book is not a screenplay, it's an adult fairy tale. It's not, I think, meant to be read without illustrations because it employs a measure of nondescription that, in addition to allowing the reader the expected comfort of artistic license while traversing the author's mind, it also provides the image that accompanies each page to transcend imagery and become symbol. What is quintessential to the written passage is almost always portrayed on the page, and this adds a strong suggestion of the profound to a story otherwise ravenously devoured at a pace of the fairy tale.
Not to say that the fairy tale is my new Shakespearean tragedy, but I will say that reading this has made me feel like a better person....more
My (lax) review: This book earns my award for Most Underrated Book of the budding century. Although it may not be literary classic quality, I'm roundinMy (lax) review: This book earns my award for Most Underrated Book of the budding century. Although it may not be literary classic quality, I'm rounding up to a five for absolutely enthralling me with the interests inside the text. I normally don't like the 'coming of age' tale, but this book is as much a reflection on civilization's rapidly approaching, hormone-in-our-food induced, technological puberty as it is on the main character's awareness. There are so many amusing, and thankfully recurring, themes in this book; like the way these teens are getting radiation lesions and, rather than hide them as we would our acne, they eventually go to the extent of having artificial lesions cover their body in a way emulating their beloved sitcom stars.
Highly recommended for teenagers, young adults, or any adult with a sense of humour and three or more pieces of modern technology....more
What I learned: I have been in a fit of deliberation as to how I would rate these tales. I am ashamed to say that I first wanted to give this five starWhat I learned: I have been in a fit of deliberation as to how I would rate these tales. I am ashamed to say that I first wanted to give this five stars for the mere magnificence of the author. I say ashamed because ever since the preface of The Picture of Dorian Gray, I have shared a belief that, although an artist cannot ever create a piece of art without putting his or her self into it, each piece of art can and should only ever be criticized for the ideas it has been loaned. I have thankfully decided it would be the greater honour to Mr. Wilde that I agree with his audience-artist integrity and appraise the art for the art's sake (get it?! because the aesthetic motto is art for art's sake! hohoho.)
Now that the disclaimer is over: this collection surprised the hell out of me. Oscar Wilde is known for his beautiful language, and so I had expected him to be in his element with tales of make-believe, but I did not think I would be able to enjoy as many of these as I did and I'll explain why next paragraph. In addition to the style of writing, there are near-paraphrases in the tales where I would see... the same way that Lord Henry threw his head back on a couch in chapter one of Dorian gray, or the same scene of gaunt trees as one of Wilde's poignant poems. I had to just smile to myself and move on before I ended up losing my place and trying to find a deeper significance. Every lover of the Wilde style should read these.
The thing that stops me from five, though: I don't really like short stories. I had an entire class on the American short story, and I've had to read even more than that because my friend/professor of five of my classes is obsessed with them. The only difference between a short story and a fairy tale, aside from the language, obviously,--usually--is the purpose. While I do, and I think everone else does as well, enjoy that instant gratification of my achievement which accompanies instantly understanding the purpose/significance of what I was reading, I miss the depth of character development and having to work for my conflicts....more
What I learned: I'll admit, this is one of two books I've deliberately stopped reading before reaching the end out of frustration. I got to page 250 aWhat I learned: I'll admit, this is one of two books I've deliberately stopped reading before reaching the end out of frustration. I got to page 250 and then decided: okay, I think I've suffered enough that I can make an informed decision on my own.
Twilight's writing style was made for movies. By that I mean no compliment, but I don't necessarily mean insult, either. Authors like Dan Brown and J. K. Rowling are adored by the modern audience, America especially, and so they're obviously doing something... well, I'd cringe to say 'right.' I tend to think the degradation of the word is a grave problem approaching modern art. But really, the narrative reads like a movie in the easily paced sequence and character introduction, with even some kind of romantic/action beat happening every 20 pages or so. If I wanted to, I could probably finish this book in a few hours, but my main issue is with the plot and its execution.
To begin with: mandatory blow pointing out the stupidity of vampires playing baseball. Now, in seriousness, why the hell is a mormon writing vampire smut? To clarify: why is she trying to convey the story within her boundaries of LDS values? I'm honestly asking. Isn't the premise of vampirism against doctrine? Doesn't it defy the necessary constraints of religious belief that there is one god and one function of the physics to this world and its surrounding universe? On top of that, she has entirely ruined vampires. By making them "oh, well, we're vegan teehee!" stupidly primal, unrestrained by pretty much all stereotypical repelling methods: glowing in the day time, instead of suffering a fiery death--thus allowing mortals protection, since vampires are already nearly impossible to defeat with their unholy strengths and in this world could pretty much just enslave humanity in a day--By doing this, rewriting vampires entirely. Which, normally is okay, but not when you make the idea SUCK more than its original.
Speaking of rewriting ideas, I am almost certain Stephenie Meyer plagiarized not only her butchered fan fiction of vampires, but, literally, plagiarized the relationship of Bella and Edward. Charlaine Harris wrote a series called the Southern Vampire Chronicles a few years prior to the release of Twilight in which a human woman, Sookie Stackhouse, has telepathic abilities. She has (suffered) having to hear every thought of every person she comes across until, one life-changing night, the vampire Bill Compton comes through the door and Sookie discovers that she cannot read vampire's thoughts. Of course it becomes a romance tale from there. The series has been created into an HBO television show called True Blood, still on air. I'd recommend to anyone that they check it out.
In conclusion: terribly overrated book, possibly plagiarized, and certainly undeserving of any acclaim....more