There it is, the main theme of the book - now, move on and go read The Alienist and The Angel of DarMundus vult decipi.
The world wants to be deceived.
There it is, the main theme of the book - now, move on and go read The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness.
I probably could stop my review right there, but because of my dedication to you, my goodreads friends, I won't. So, here it is, my (mostly) complete review of Caleb Carr's Killing Time.
Now, let's be clear about one thing: "Mundus vult decipi - the world wants to be decieved." If there's one thing the author wants you to take away from this novel, it's that: "the world wants to be deceived." By the end of the novel (if you can make it that far) your head will literally be covered in welts from the number of times the author bludgeons you with his main theme of: "the world wants to be deceived."
(If you were sick of reading "Mundus vult decipi - the world wants to be decieved." in that last paragraph, then just imagine 352 pages scattered with paragraphs that are almost as bad. #notahyperbolicstatement)
Anyway, despite Carr's heavy-handedness of the novel's main theme, there really are some interesting ideas to be found here. For example, I was impressed by the author's prophetic vision of the events that helped shape the timeline of Dr. Gideon Wolfe's world - as they closely mirror our modern history: A financial crash occurred in 2007; the United States is warring in Afghanistan; and a bacterial infection has caused 4% of the world's population to turn into amygdala-chomping cannibals (OK. OK. So I made the last one up. But mark my words: Ready yourselves for the zombie apocalypse. [PSA complete. Cue "The More You Know" animation]) Seriously though, I was genuinely intrigued by the author's eerily accurate "predictions" of our modern world, and it really helped make the history of Carr's future setting - the year 2023 - feel believable. (Full disclosure: At the time of the book's initial publication, which was in 1998, I wasn't really following world affairs, so maybe his ideas aren't as forward-thinking or as astute as I'm giving him credit for.)
I also found the machinations that Malcom Tressaillian and his crew concocted and surreptitiously funneled into the world's data stream, and therefore the collective consciousness of the world's population, to be quite fascinating - and some of them, quite believable. I won't go into any details about those, but let's just say that I was interested enough in one of them to do some research of my own. Which reminds me, I feel like Carr probably spent a fair bit of time during the outset of writing this novel to research and gather data on the plausibility of the conspiracies he had his characters use in the story, and for whatever reason, I find that impressive and respectable.
Finally, let me just say that I really wanted to like this novel. Really, I did. I thoroughly enjoyed The Alienist and I thought the The Angel of Darkness was okay. But this novel, despite a rather interesting mix of elements and a bevy of thought-provoking ideas was a total dud. And it's unfortunate, because this novel could have really shined, but the author's imprecise alchemy of one-dimensional characters, not-quite-believable technology, lackluster action sequences, and the leaden weight of an overbearing main theme made it nearly impossible to enjoy.
The Verdict Stay away from this one.
If you're still interested in reading any of Caleb Carr's books then go read The Alienist as it's actually quite good. ...more
Despite having been published in 1998, Volunteering: 101 Ways You Can Improve the World and Your Life still proves to be an excellent source of encourDespite having been published in 1998, Volunteering: 101 Ways You Can Improve the World and Your Life still proves to be an excellent source of encouragement and advice for those of us who might be interested in volunteering but aren't quite sure where to begin, what to expect, or even if they have anything of value to give.
By using a simple question-answer format – sprinkled with some inspirational quotes and real world examples – the author does a good job informing the reader on the benefits of volunteering for everyone involved - from the well-deserving recipients, to the good-natured volunteers themselves. The author even spends some time describing how corporations and their employees can benefit from taking an active interest in their local community.
My only real gripe about this book is that it was written and published at a time when the 101 Tips and Tricks type books were at the height of their popularity, so some of the material gets rehashed several times throughout the book. This kind of bogs it down, and lessens the overall impact of the material. However, this book wasn't written to be read in a linear fashion, so if you just skim through it and pick out the sections that interest you then this may not be an issue for you.
Also, this book doesn't provide much information (i.e., websites, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.) about many of the volunteer organizations it mentions, but considering that it was written thirteen years ago this isn't really a bad thing, as a lot of that info would probably be out of date by now.
Anyway, if you're looking for a book to help assuage your fears or self-doubts about volunteering, just need to hear that your contribution can make a difference, or are curious about what volunteering can do for you, then this book might be a good place to start....more
It's been a couple of days since I finished reading the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man and I'm still not quite sure how I feel aboIt's been a couple of days since I finished reading the first volume of Brian K. Vaughan's Y: The Last Man and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about. There were definitely some interesting things going on in this graphic novel but I didn't feel a connection to any of the characters. (Maybe this is something that is addressed in later volumes?) Still, I'm interested enough in the overall story that I'll keep reading for at least a few more volumes.
Oh, one more thing: I love the fact that Yurick named the monkey Ampersand. I don't know why, but I think it's a nice touch. ...more
For me, this was a decent introduction to the historical fiction genre. The story was well-paced and the events leading up to (and during) the eruptioFor me, this was a decent introduction to the historical fiction genre. The story was well-paced and the events leading up to (and during) the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius were both fun to read and informative. However, the ending of the book felt extremely abrupt, and although I didn't care too much about any of the characters (including the protagonist) I wish the author had given us more than a scant five pages to sort through the aftermath of the destruction.
In conclusion, I have to say that I was impressed by the author's ability to educate me in various aspects of Roman life in 79 AD. And I, like many readers I suppose, found myself marveling at the ingenuity of the Roman engineers - especially those responsible for the aqueducts. Overall, the novel was a decent read (despite a significant lack of character development) and written well enough that I will definitely consider reading more of Mr. Harris' work in the future....more
A simple and concise guide on embracing adulthood and all of things that come with it. The Art of Growing Up isn't exactly a self-help book, but it doA simple and concise guide on embracing adulthood and all of things that come with it. The Art of Growing Up isn't exactly a self-help book, but it does offer some nice tips and tricks on coping with the reality of getting older. It's true that most of the things the author tells us aren't new, but she presents them in a pleasant enough way, that if you're willing to listen, may help you to hear them again for the first time. Overall, this book is well worth the 30 - 45 minutes it will take you to read it. It probably won't change your life, but it just might alter some of your preconceptions about what it takes to act like an adult, and exactly what it means to be "grown up".
A romance novel recommended to me by Rachel. Not exactly my kind of book, but it proved to be a nice distraction after the dark and twisty writing ofA romance novel recommended to me by Rachel. Not exactly my kind of book, but it proved to be a nice distraction after the dark and twisty writing of Stephen King - somehow I managed to plow through this thing in one day. The writing was well executed and the characters felt like real people. I don't know if I would read it again anytime soon, but I'm definitely glad Rachel suggested it to me. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is a great character writer; I could probably learn quite a bit about writing well-fleshed out characters by reading more of her novels. ...more
I will have to write a formal review later on, but for now let me just say that I really enjoyed this one. I will definitely be adding this novel to mI will have to write a formal review later on, but for now let me just say that I really enjoyed this one. I will definitely be adding this novel to my permanent collection, and I look forward to reading it again sometime soon.