And All the Stars is more than just a sort of post-apocalyptic story about teenagers surviving and being really smart and resourceful and amazing, in...moreAnd All the Stars is more than just a sort of post-apocalyptic story about teenagers surviving and being really smart and resourceful and amazing, in the aftermath of an alien occupation of earth. The story is about classes and social work and an individual being more than the generalization of his or her society.
This book was a really great read. I loved having the characters realistically discuss what to do next, seeing the occupation and changes to society take place over time. I always find it frustrating when a novel or a movie establishes some event is taking place (alien invasion, virus release, zombies, etc.) and then jumps ahead some how (character gets injured, usually) without showing the transition. And All the Stars is all about the transition.
But just as much as the actual story, I loved how diverse the characters were. There's a straight boy who doesn't confirm to hetero norms and has a gay best friend who he's super close to and he doesn't mind when people assume they might be a couple. There are people of other religions, people from multiple ethnicities. And even one male who dresses feminine with makeup and traditionally female clothes despite definitely identifying as male.
My only complaint has to do with the end: (view spoiler)[the big final battle is skipped over ala The Hunger Games where Katniss would always wake up later to someone explaining how things finished. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The short stories contained within this collection are incredibly varied in style, substance and quality. And I’d never read anything from any of thes...moreThe short stories contained within this collection are incredibly varied in style, substance and quality. And I’d never read anything from any of these writers (unless we’re counting Charlie Jane Anders’ posts on io9).
There were some stories I was happy that I had read. But there were some that I definitely could have done without, either because I didn’t like the writing style, I didn’t like the characters or I just didn’t care for the plot. But that is the risk you run when you read a collection like this.
There were three incredibly strong pieces in this, two that were interesting but felt very incomplete, and two I may not have even bothered to finish.
Overall, well worth it, especially considering it was free!
Six Months, Three Days An interesting take on what happens if the two people in a relationship both have a sort of ability to see the future and they know that their relationship is going to end poorly. The story is one of free will vs. fate. And while I enjoyed reading it, I had a problem with the dialogue, which I thought was fake sounding.
The Dala Horse I had no idea where this story was going when I started it, and I finished it with a multitude of questions. It was an interesting read, but I felt like so much was not answered.
A Clean Sweep with all the Trimmings I’ll admit that I couldn’t read this at all. I don’t like the style of writing and I didn’t care for the little bit of the story I did read.
Beauty Belongs to the Flowers A long, beautiful story of a cyberpunk Japan. The technology available fascinated me. But more so, I enjoyed the interactions between the people. The youth of Japan, embracing very modern ways, vs. the older generations, who are more respectful and do not approve of the fake worlds people live in as a result of their technology. However, I did not like the very end. It creeped me out, but not in a good way. In a sort of disgusting way.
A Vector Alphabet of Interstellar Travel A look at various alien cultures in the galaxy. These are incredibly creative. However, they are unconnected to one another and read more like the appendix to a really great space opera rather than anything that can stand on its own.
Ragnarok I’ll admit that I have problems with epic poems, but there have been ones I loved in the past. This is not one of them. I had trouble getting into it, and I had trouble paying attention the whole way through.
Hello Moto Another story that seems like a snippet of a larger novel. It very interesting, but overall too short. I would like some more, please. We don’t get enough background of who the women are, but we know that one of them created something that they could use for good, and, as happens, two of them choose to use it selfishly.
Shtetl Easily the best of the bunch. This is the story of a world where Hitler succeeded. The Jews have been wiped out, and the Reich rules the world. Since there are no more Jews, the Reich has chosen to create little villages with actors (like those annoying ones from frontier villages or something), who do not break from their roles while in the village. They live out the lives of Jews while tourists come and gawk at this extinguished people. The actors do their jobs so well, that they have to admit to themselves that there is no longer a difference between the characters they place and the people they are outside of the village.(less)
Despite being enamored with all of Neil Gaiman’s novels, his short stories usually don’t do it for me for the most part. I read them though, because f...moreDespite being enamored with all of Neil Gaiman’s novels, his short stories usually don’t do it for me for the most part. I read them though, because for every “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” there are fantastic ones like “We Can Get Them for You Wholesale” and “Babycakes” and “Troll Bridge,” which are so amazingly well written, tell such whimsical, horrifying and beautiful stories that I firmly believe my children or grandchildren will be reading them in a literature class alongside John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” or Flannery O’Connor’s “A Good Man is Hard to Find.”(less)
In the year 2039 the creator of the world’s largest interactive online simulation, OASIS, dies a very rich man. However, he has named no heirs to his...moreIn the year 2039 the creator of the world’s largest interactive online simulation, OASIS, dies a very rich man. However, he has named no heirs to his fortune. Instead, in his video will, he sets a task to the people of the world. There is an Easter egg hidden somewhere within the vast universes of OASIS. In order to find it, players must find three keys and three gates. He leaves a clue to the first key and immediately a frenzy begins as the winner stands inherit not only OASIS, but the hundreds of billions of dollars the man had. For five years no one can even find the first key, until high school student Wade Watts gets very, very lucky, triggering a frantic race.
Throughout the book of Ready Player One readers are able to experience the vast, intricate and odd world of OASIS, a place both wonderful (there’s a Whedonverse!) and unreal. But at the same time we are introduced to an Earth that is a dismal place, ravaged by wars, with high unemployment, incredible numbers of homeless and a money-grubbing evil corporation, people are escaping into OASIS more and more simply so they don’t have to face reality.
Ernest Cline has managed to create two very interesting and unique worlds, and the clues and the hints the egg hunters (or “gunters”) are given to find the keys and gates are detailed and interesting. The journey through OASIS, the race against other gunters, Wade’s realizations about the world, and the antagonist of the evil corporation IOI all combine for a great read.
However, this book had some pretty big flaws, the main one being pacing. The middle of the book is a real killer. There is a lull between passing the first gate and finding the second key. Wade falls into a funk, he’s depressed, he’s wasting time, he can’t concentrate on the game and overall I lost interest a little myself. Then the pace picks up frantically as after the second key is found, the second gate is quickly passed and the third key is found even faster. It seemed very uneven to me.
Another thing is the ’80s references. OASIS’s creator loved the ’80s because he was a teenager then, so he makes all sorts of references to games and shows and music of that time in a journal he left behind. As a result, the world becomes obsessed with old games like Adventure, television shows like Schoolhouse Rock and bands like Rush, believing, correctly, that knowledge of his obsessions would help them find the Easter egg. I always find making references to current or past pop culture a cop out. In this book it make sense, it really does, in order for the gunters to figure out the keys, but I quickly got ’80s fatigue at all the name dropping and references and factoids. Technologically, the world in which Ready Player One takes place has progressed, but it stymied culturally, never advancing and in fact actually backtracking to, of all decades, the ’80s.
The book raises the interesting concept that, like the Internet, you could be anyone in OASIS. So I enjoyed learning a little more about the people behind the avatars. (view spoiler)[Although it was disappointing that the person we learn the least about was Art3mis. We get very interesting back stories with Shoto and Aech, but Art3mis, the love interest, never really gets developed much. When they meet the focus is on the mark on her face, to prove the point that physical appearance doesn’t matter to Wade, he fell in love with her long ago in OASIS. But we don’t get any background on her. She’s a college student who lives in Canada. That’s about it. Whereas Shoto explains his backstory with Daito, how they met and why they felt like they were brothers. Aech explains her troubles with her mother and why she chose to be a Caucasian male in OASIS despite being a black female in real life. (hide spoiler)]
Ready Player One was a unique and interesting read with a few issues that didn’t detract too much from the overall story.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Alas, Babylon really shows an amazing look into what American life would have been like if Russia had sent nukes during the Cold War. Admittedly, I th...moreAlas, Babylon really shows an amazing look into what American life would have been like if Russia had sent nukes during the Cold War. Admittedly, I thought it was a rather optimistic look at life, since the people of Fort Repose, Florida, seem to get rather lucky at the things they find, at the fact that the wind blows just right so they can avoid the fallout and that they live on a river that essentially feeds the main characters throughout the book.
We don't really get much of a look at what is happening in the rest of the country until the very end, because communications are down and whatever is working is reserved specifically for special defense communications.
All in all, I thought the end of the book had a very odd message. It almost seemed as if what we were to take away was that once modern amenities were all taken away from them, the people of the book found their lives fulfilling because they had to fend for themselves in a way that they never had to their whole lives.(less)
I read this whole series a long time ago, but I still think back fondly on it every once in a while. Admittedly, Angel Sanctuary isn't for everyone. T...moreI read this whole series a long time ago, but I still think back fondly on it every once in a while. Admittedly, Angel Sanctuary isn't for everyone. There's incest, there's concepts that religious people will find offensive, there are angels who are very bad, there are demons who are very sympathetic (there are also good angels and bad demons, though) and there's drama, drama, drama!
Overall it's a strong series, although there were times when I thought maybe I could do with a little less craziness and a little more getting back to the main point.(less)
In Genesis, we meet young Anaximander, who is enduring questioning on the topic of her choice in an attempt to gain entry into the prestigious Academy...moreIn Genesis, we meet young Anaximander, who is enduring questioning on the topic of her choice in an attempt to gain entry into the prestigious Academy. Through the questions presented to Anax and her carefully worded answers the reader learns about how a devastating plague ravaged the world and a small society survived by completely cutting itself off from the outside world. Of particular interest to Anax is the figure Adam Forde. We learn about Adam's importance as if the story is the center of an onion and we need to peel back the layers to slowly unveil the true meaning of this story.
Genesis is not an easy read. There is a lot of philosophical discussion, particularly when we look at one of Adam’s interactions. These philosophical discussions and arguments become quite important for the end of the story we are being told. And the end of this story is delivered with a punch. This is a book that I believe needs to be read again in order to truly appreciate the ending.
Genesis is a quick read but it is not easy material, and that makes it all the better.
Some thoughts about the very end of the book, so major spoilers ahead. (view spoiler)[I find it interesting that even the robots have their own religious founding in a sense. There is Adam and Art who represent Adam and Eve. It is Adam, though the infects Art and brings about the virus (equivalent to Eve eating the fruit and giving it to Adam). This is interesting because men dominate women throughout the Bible and history and yet it is the woman - whom men would consider the lesser of the two - who brings about a cataclysmic event.
Now it is the human, the lesser and flawed of the two that brings about the mutations in certain robots, something they are still trying to stamp out years and years later (I believe they even refer to it as original sin). But without Adam Art would never have been able to send out his programming and thus begin the war between robots and humans. They even refer to this whole episode as their Genesis. I found it interesting that although they are robots and probably have no need for religion and faith, they still use terms from religion and their history mirrored a religious story. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
**spoiler alert** After everything, I think it's safe to say that I found the end of the book thoroughly unsatisfying. All of the characters and the c...more**spoiler alert** After everything, I think it's safe to say that I found the end of the book thoroughly unsatisfying. All of the characters and the conflict and the side plots and ... all of it seems to have been for nothing in my opinion. I was so disappointed in the ending that I feel like I'm being generous with 3 stars, but the truth is that most of the book was a good read. Except for the fact that I feel like it all had no purpose in the end.(less)
I received this is as a free ARC through NetGalley.
I believe it’s a big risk to tell a story by alternating between multiple characte...moreReally 3.5 stars.
I received this is as a free ARC through NetGalley.
I believe it’s a big risk to tell a story by alternating between multiple characters with their separate storylines. Sure, they’re eventually going to connect and combine, but there’s the potential that one of the stories is going to be far more interesting than the others. For me, that’s what happened with Leviathan Wakes.
The overall story is interesting and the history of how we expanded out into space and the tension between the Belters and the Earthers and the Martians was all explained nicely and fairly early in the book, which was absolutely necessary. Without that being set up properly, this book would have been entirely too confusing and things wouldn't have been able to escalate as quickly as they do later on.
My problem with this book was that for the majority of it I almost didn’t care about Miller’s storyline. I saw why it was important, I knew how it was going to tie in, but considering how much more interesting the plot surrounding Holden and his crew was, I couldn’t wait to get through Miller’s boring problems and back to the real action.
Even when Miller and Holden cross paths I was still more interested in Holden and his crew. I’m just not entirely sure what it was about the character that didn’t keep my interest.
Typically this would have been 4 to 4.5 stars - good read, interesting characters, action, complex storyline and (view spoiler)[zombies (hide spoiler)]. But the fact that I was skimming large portions because I found one of the main storylines so much less interesting than the other was a serious issue for me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
These book was incredibly good. And then I got to about 90% in and my mind was simply blown. All of a sudden, everything that had happened previously...moreThese book was incredibly good. And then I got to about 90% in and my mind was simply blown. All of a sudden, everything that had happened previously took on all new meanings. I never saw that coming and it was amazing.(less)
I was left with mixed emotions once I finished The Strain, mostly because I really, really did not like it at all for the first three-quarters of the...moreI was left with mixed emotions once I finished The Strain, mostly because I really, really did not like it at all for the first three-quarters of the book. It was only until the end that I began to get interested, but by then I had little to no patience.
To me, The Strain felt like the poor man’s The Passage and feels sort of like the movie Contagion in which it tries to be incredibly scientific and look at the process of turning into a vampire like a disease. This is interesting initially, but quickly becomes boring and continues to go on for the majority of the book.
I had high hopes for this book because the beginning – the tale of Sardu, the dead plane landing in JFK – really caught me. But the book never really seems to go anywhere from there. Once the virus is out and it’s taking hold of Manhattan, we jump around from minor character to minor character just to see the various ways they are sucked dry and turned or find out what is happening. Eventually, you know longer care (I get it! No one is prepared!), because it has been to varying degrees over and over again.
And I didn't care at all about the characters who were all cliched caricatures. There's the good guy who has troubles (former alcoholic, divorced, going through a custody battle), the old, wise man who knows everything, the female love interest, the son who is so smart for his age, the ex-wife who has a weird, confusing relationship with the main guy, and her boyfriend who is an a-hole.
I'm pretty sure I’ll never go on to read The Fall because The Strain left me feeling so disappointed.
Instead, I think I’m going to go back and read The Passage again in anticipation of the sequel, The Twelve, coming out.(less)
This book was just very bland and formulaic and predictable, and I didn't particularly like the characters and I especially didn't like the relationsh...moreThis book was just very bland and formulaic and predictable, and I didn't particularly like the characters and I especially didn't like the relationship between Tally and David. Overall, it was a disappointment for me.(less)
Give me a good plot and I will read that book cover to cover and typically be happy to do so. This just had to be the one exception. I Am Number Four...moreGive me a good plot and I will read that book cover to cover and typically be happy to do so. This just had to be the one exception. I Am Number Four took me a while to read because although I enjoyed the story, I hated the writing. The writing was very childish in my opinion. I felt as if we were often being told in short, clipped sentences what was happening, rather than experiencing it. Take this gem:
"I laugh. Henri does not. Bernie Kosar lies on the ground the whole time watching us, seeming to offer his own encouragement. After we are done I shower, do my homework, and sit at the kitchen table for dinner."
It's like a list, not a story. Unfortunately, this type of writing tends to pop up fairly frequently throughout the novel. With better writing, I think I would have enjoyed this a lot more. I'm torn between whether I liked the book or the movie more. While I enjoyed that the movie had some some badass fight scenes that just don't translate well into the written word, the novel had more context. We actually see Lorien in the book. We learn in more depth what happened there and more about the Loric. But, and maybe this makes me a horrible person, I enjoyed (view spoiler)[the way Henri dies in the movie better. It's just more dramatic and it takes place before the big fight, so I liked that (hide spoiler)]. I also liked Mark James in the movie better for some reason, although I can't really put my finger on why.
Bottom line: the atrocious writing really ruined it a lot for me. I found myself skipping a lot of writing just because I couldn't read it or I just didn't care about the mundane crap being explained in excruciating detail. The concept was great, the execution abysmal.
I can't lie to myself, though: I'll probably read the next one.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was very hesitant going in because Scott Westerfeld wrote Uglies, which was like one big cliche for me. The female lead was insipid, the romance was...moreI was very hesitant going in because Scott Westerfeld wrote Uglies, which was like one big cliche for me. The female lead was insipid, the romance was predictable and just the overall story didn't do it for me.
Westerfeld is a whole different writer in Leviathan, and this story is so freaking far from Uglies that it is hard for me to admit that it's the same author. This, in my opinion, is phenomenal.
Now, I have to admit that I have a weakness for stories in which a girl is trying to pass as a boy. I blame this on the fact that I grew up reading Tamora Pierce's Song of the Lioness quartet. That being said, it makes sense that Deryn’s part of the book was my favorite. She was absolutely amazing and I loved her and the absolute swagger she has. In comparison, Alek was just dull.
But overall, it was a good, fun read, and there's not too much I can complain about if I can say that about a book. However, I think for me, Leviathan reads too young, which makes sense considering how young Alek and Deryn are; but at the same time it was a little disappointing.
But where this leaves off! This book doesn't have a cliffhanger ending, but it does just sort of hang there. Where Leviathan cuts off was sort of abrupt in my opinion. It sort of felt like just as the book was getting really good it ends almost as if to taunt me: "Now you have to go out and buy the next one!"(less)