I loved the premise of this book, a dystopian near-future in which the universal escape from a grim reality is an immersive computer game. The executiI loved the premise of this book, a dystopian near-future in which the universal escape from a grim reality is an immersive computer game. The execution was not bad either, but the final act was a let down - too rushed and too neat. ...more
Biting, funny, challenging. So much is packed in to every page of this book. It seethes with anger at the racist system and everyone in it. Like an UzBiting, funny, challenging. So much is packed in to every page of this book. It seethes with anger at the racist system and everyone in it. Like an Uzi packed with satirical one-liners and clever thought bubbles the author sprays at everyone and everything. ...more
A short and spooky read. Mitchell is a master of the surreal, and this book is full of it; like the characters, we're never sure what's real and what'A short and spooky read. Mitchell is a master of the surreal, and this book is full of it; like the characters, we're never sure what's real and what's imagined. Speaking of characters, I really enjoyed each one in this. Mitchell somehow captures the essence of each character in very few words, changing his style of writing to suit their inner dialogue. Their reaction to the unreal / paranormal settings in which they find themselves is very real and human, and different for each.
There are layers here that I glossed over on first read through, particularly how this fits in with the broader world that Mitchell has built in his other books. There are obvious links to the Bone Clocks but I haven't read it recently enough to think any more than 'Isn't that the same character...?'. Like all his novels this book holds together well as a standalone, but seems to also fit into a bigger story arc that is slowly revealed as new novels are released. Makes me want to go back and read the whole lot again!...more
A thought provoking read in which reality is not quite as linear as it appears. The author got a bit science geeky occasionally, and the supporting chA thought provoking read in which reality is not quite as linear as it appears. The author got a bit science geeky occasionally, and the supporting characters lack depth, but the main pair are well fleshed out and the story is engaging. ...more
A powerful last act redeems this short story. The vast majority of the story is an interesting tale of three characters - a naive rap star desperatelyA powerful last act redeems this short story. The vast majority of the story is an interesting tale of three characters - a naive rap star desperately seeking connection and meaning in all the wrong places, the trusted manager with a surprising depth, and the music journo who has insider access to an unreal world. It was a good character study for the most part, but lacking a point - until the interview ends, and real life for the more interesting characters begins. ...more
I loved the first three Earthsea books, brilliantly conceived and executed. The third book ends so neatly I just assumed that the fourth would be abouI loved the first three Earthsea books, brilliantly conceived and executed. The third book ends so neatly I just assumed that the fourth would be about new characters, or a different perspective or something. Not this. While it's well written, and captures grief, loss and the broken nature of the Earthsea society well, it is just... boring. Nothing of note really happens, the main characters grapple with being normal people in a bad society. I suppose I can see why some people might enjoy this exposition and the critique on our own society, but I couldn't get into it.
I once read a Harry Potter fanfiction set post-Deathly Hallows. The set up was basically Harry, Ron and Hermione struggle with middle age - marriage breakups, parents aging, dementia... Obviously the writing style was not in the same class as Le Guin, but Tehanu gave me the same feeling. Why would I want to read about these fantastic heroes struggling with the minutiae of daily life? I read other books for that. Ones set in a more realistic world in which real world problems actually resonate. When you have dragons flying round and evil wizards, normal problems just seem dull....more
The Harry Potter series is, as a whole, brilliant. Like millions of other fans, I eagerly awaited this new installment in the Potterverse and consumedThe Harry Potter series is, as a whole, brilliant. Like millions of other fans, I eagerly awaited this new installment in the Potterverse and consumed the book as soon as I could. Overall I found it fairly enjoyable, with some very moving scenes. However I have to admit to being quite disappointed.
Firstly, the format itself is limiting and makes the story both short, and progressed almost entirely by dialogue. As a play this makes some sense, but the story suffers as a result. It relies heavily on the evocative world building of the original books, without adding any flavour of its own. Also, I suppose it is difficult to display lots of magic in a play, and there is barely any use of magic throughout the book. The action sequences in this pale desperately in comparison to any of the major scenes of the original series.
The plot itself is reasonably exciting, but a little nonsensical. (view spoiler)[Time travel is a dangerous plot device, and JKR (or the other playwrights) goes against the time travel rules she established for her universe in this one. In PoA, people using time turners cannot change what they've already observed - anything they do while time turned has already happened in the present/future. Unfortunately these new time-turners allow anything to be changed irrespective of the downstream impact, which means they can create huge plot holes. As a small example, why would (Lucius) Malfoy have one of these and not use it to hugely improve his fortune? And if Nott or Malfoy can create one, why not everyone? They aren't the cleverest or most innovative characters in the original books by a long shot. In particular, surely Voldemort would be able to do it. He is a twisted genius who could surely see the value of such a device. Or Dumbledore? Anyway, not a fan of this plot device.
The reveal of Delphi as the antagonist is very predictable. Again, the limitations of the story as a play script don't help here, we only have one new character in the book, and she's clearly shadowy right from the outset despite the trust invested in her by the boys. There's so little in the way of world or character building you just know that she's the bad guy right from the start. Serious eye rolls when Scorpius invited her to the final time turning after the disaster of the second one, incredible. (hide spoiler)]
The book is mostly saved by the depth of the main characters and the exploration of their relationships - particularly between Albus and Scorpius, and between Albus and Harry. I really enjoyed the growth of each of these characters and the way that their relationships morphed through the book.
Overall, I can't help but wish that JKR had written this up as an actual novel. She could have made so much more of the story idea than was achieved in this script, with some actual magic, real world building and deeper/more complex characters. Yes, I'll go see the play when it comes here. No doubt I'll even enjoy it. But this is definitely no book 8. To be honest, I don't think this one is even as good as many of the better fan-fics, which have more exciting plots, deeper characters, and sharper worlds. I really wanted to love this but couldn't quite manage it. Forgive me JKR!...more
Mostly enjoyable, although as with most Stephenson books there are sections of elaborate explanations that go on a bit - in this case, mostly on chainMostly enjoyable, although as with most Stephenson books there are sections of elaborate explanations that go on a bit - in this case, mostly on chain dynamics. The premise was interesting, and the political response entirely believable. Having said this, I enjoyed the Issy half of the book much more than the post Eves bit. (view spoiler)[I don't understand how the races could have become so distinct, surely they would have encouraged cross breeding from the first generation - even with the ability to remove recessive characteristics they would have wanted to expand genetic diversity and set up their new society without the racial prejudices that hinder our own. (hide spoiler)]...more
I loved Oryx and Crake and the Year of the Flood, and had very high expectations of this book. Unfortunately this is a mere shadow of those books. TheI loved Oryx and Crake and the Year of the Flood, and had very high expectations of this book. Unfortunately this is a mere shadow of those books. The only really compelling storyline was Zeb's backstory, but the way it was revealed tended to stall the progression of this novel. I had two major problems with the book. The poor characterisation meant most of the major characters morphed in this book into one dimensional husks - Toby smallminded and obsessively jealous, Jimmy unconscious and then basically a non-event, Ren and Amanda effectively eliminated from any meaningful part in the story. Even the Painballers were absent. And the way it sped through storylines in the final third to tie all the loose ends up and complete the trilogy read more like a newspaper summary than the excellent narrative journey we might expect from Atwood. Both the climax and conclusion were massively muted and lacking in any emotional substance. If you're a fan you will read this, but I suggest keeping your expectations low!...more