I have to admit that I was skeptical about this one- unplanned sequels can often be unnecessary. However, Farmer's new installment is finely crated wiI have to admit that I was skeptical about this one- unplanned sequels can often be unnecessary. However, Farmer's new installment is finely crated with possibly even better characters than the first and much more even pacing than The House of the Scorpion's slow start. Listen makes a great female character in a mostly masculine world and the complications between Cienfuegos and his past are interesting- he's just a super likable character despite not being portrayed with incredible sophistication. The audio recording is great because you get the Hispanic accents and the interview between Farmer and Raul Esparza at the end is a great follow up to the book. However, there seem to be additional materials at the end of he print copy so it may be worthwhile to check out both. My only issue was that I didn't really like the voices of Matt's friends....more
I had trouble giving this one five stars, but more trouble giving it only four. The writing at the beginning is overwrought with too much fancified deI had trouble giving this one five stars, but more trouble giving it only four. The writing at the beginning is overwrought with too much fancified description. In fact, it's so bad that it's difficult to tolerate. So why did I keep going? Well, first off, the audio recording is excellent- I love the reader's expression and intimate resonance to her voice. Second, although it's brutal (and I mean really brutal), Howey manages to make crying over characters and stomaching the cliffhangers worth it. I also think that he does some of the best job with characters that I've ever seen- man, I loved them. Both men and women are powerfully described and potent instigators of the plot. In the end, however, I hesitate to say more. I didn't come into the book with a lot of expectation and it made the journey even more dangerous and surprising. I oft wanted to turn it off but it is worth pushing through the amateurish beginning until the characters have you hooked- you will follow them to their end without regret....more
Even though I was interested in finding out what happens, I have to say that I thought the overall quality of this was pretty poor. First off, every cEven though I was interested in finding out what happens, I have to say that I thought the overall quality of this was pretty poor. First off, every couple chapters or so I would wake out of the story and just want to shake the people in the book for creating such an idiotic social system. The dystopian world just had no nuance and tried to stretch a very rudimentary design into a way longer work than it had interest for. Second, what Tris does at the end is 1, not selfless and 2, not smart, although I suppose you could make an argument for brave. I think that Roth could have supported it a bit better to make it make sense with Tris's character but that those elements just weren't there. Third, I thought the beginning fight scenes uncomfortably brutal. I'm not sure if that's a good thing, a bad thing, or really doesn't matter in the overall scheme but well, just ick. I think it's a little rough to have something like that toward the beginning of a book/series where you don't really trust the author and wasn't sure that you signed up for squeamish yucky (like Maggot Moon) since you thought you put your name down for bad-situation-but-plucky-heroine-rebells-against-society-and-saves-the-day-while-having-a-touching-romance. Fourth, yes, I really did want to shake someone. Multiple times. Still can't get that out of my system without a really old, badly separated bottle of garishly colored nail polish. Okay, now really fourth- I'm not sure how I feel about the romance. Yes, the guy has a flaw and Tris is pretty strong both mentally and physically (although on this half I'm not quite sure how/why) but I wonder if he's not a little too powerful and active (as in providing solutions, making things happen) for having a pretty one-note, barely disguised secret and little else in the way of personality. But, I've been a bit negative here and since I finished the book and even eagerly awaited getting to the conclusions (in a good way), it really isn't that bad, I just still want to shake... er, already went there, twice. I guess I'm just a bit nostalgic for the older full-bodied teen dystopias that seemed to have more going on. Regardless, the similarities in writing style to Hunger Games (first person present) seems pretty popular these days and will attract read-alike readers, and while inconsistent, the writing isn't all that bad with a pretty interesting and well developed main character. Additionally, the audio reader did do a pretty awesome job of making Tris a likable and connectable character- that's got to be the strongest part of my experience with this....more
There were both good things and bad things about this reading experience. First off, as a child of the eighties, all of the pop culture references werThere were both good things and bad things about this reading experience. First off, as a child of the eighties, all of the pop culture references were pretty cool, even if I didn't get as many as possible, being generally ignorant of pop culture outside books. Regardless, I really enjoyed all the video game systems and games and the descriptions of the various challenges. Unfortunately, the book works a bit like a Rube Goldberg machine-there's only one somewhat predictable track for the story to follow but watching how it follows that track is mesmerizing nonetheless. The dystopian/virtual world combo didn't seem that original but the intrigue of the game and the gradual revelation of the history of the virtual world makes the book worth the read. For example the final infiltration seems guaranteed to succeed despite having all odds against it so that it's a matter of how, not if. The audio reading is a bit disappointing as well. Yes, it's really cool that it's Wil Wheaton, but he doesn't do a particularly good job. His voice is nice for the main character but he often seems to be the emphasis in the wrong part of occasional sentences, particularly in the beginning, that actually is disruptive to the point of confusing the meaning of the sentence. He either improves over the course of the book or it becomes less noticeable. I have heard that his other audio recordings are less disjointed than this one....more
I think I'm going to let this one sit a bit and then consider maybe changing my ranking from a 4 to a 5. First off, it has some of the best art I've sI think I'm going to let this one sit a bit and then consider maybe changing my ranking from a 4 to a 5. First off, it has some of the best art I've seen in a graphic novel. It has the same great variety as Trickster and Explorer: The Mystery Boxes but some of the individual pieces in this are much more sophisticated. I especially like the pieces that use what appears to be watercolor, although many of the more traditional ones have a nice balance of simplicity and detail, something which I find really important in comics since the detail can easily overwhelm the viewer/reader with multiple panels per page as well as with the all-caps type (which, come to think of it, is difficult enough to read on its own). The narratives seem to range a bit more in quality- many I really liked and a couple just didn't really touch me. The topic is pretty good, especially if you known enough tales to understand the playful details such as Sherri/ Scheherazade. Many of the tales do end up taking darker approaches to the future than not, almost touching on dystopian. The book is also pretty appealing to both genders with a couple strong female heroines in these retold tales but there is still an underlying male-orientation wherein there are more male heroes and the women are often over-sexualized. I appreciate the attempt at multiculturalism with many Chinese and Japanese tales and one set in Lagos, Nigeria with black characters but I think that this could have gone further. In particular the Asian tales seem to be strongly historical in comparison to the more futuristic European tales....more
So I hated this. And I'm generally a big Garth Nix fan, which made the disappointment all the stronger. I think it started to go wrong with the narratSo I hated this. And I'm generally a big Garth Nix fan, which made the disappointment all the stronger. I think it started to go wrong with the narrator- he had a bit of a nasally gritty voice that grated on my nerves and made the naivete of the protagonist even more unbearable. The worst was that there was too much exposition and it was too directly told, boring me and Corey almost to the point of turning it off. In this book, Nix isn't telling things in the best way possible, or even in the second or third best way possible but sometimes in what seems to be the most boring rendition of a somewhat interesting premise possible. I thought there was way too much technology inelegantly incorporated- so much description was wasted on items and what they do rather than the story in which they take place- and the psy-tech, mech-tech, bi-tech rock-paper-scissors thing seemed way too elementary, particularly in how it was presented. I do wish there were more strong female characters, especially considering the Sabriel books. That said, the ending was actually nicely wrapped up, even if the trials of the climax seemed rather trite. Oh, and there's actually a surprising amount of sexual behavior for something that reads like it should appeal to the maturity of a 4th grader....more
Not up to saying more at the moment, but this is a fantastic, horrible, lovely, scary, prescient book that everyone should read. Note that I didn't saNot up to saying more at the moment, but this is a fantastic, horrible, lovely, scary, prescient book that everyone should read. Note that I didn't say enjoy, but read. Probably at the very top of the "Everyone Must Read" list. Also read in 2002....more
I don't know f I'm ready to start writing about this one yet, but I want to start with a couple thoughts. First, this was pretty awesome and completelI don't know f I'm ready to start writing about this one yet, but I want to start with a couple thoughts. First, this was pretty awesome and completely perfect for my upcoming project on ideas of conflict in teen dystopian fiction but then there's the second thought- CML didn't mark it as teen, nor did amazon despite being written by a teen author. Is it a teen book? Maybe... it's sort of a universal book from a teenager's point of view. I'd love to know more opinions on this if anyone would share. It's kind of complicated and deep(?) but its size and format make it perfectly tuned and trim, at 150 pages. I did compare it to Ray Bradbury, after some disparaging comments by my husband about the size and theoretical quality of teen books. I also compared it to the way Andy's Dominion decks run- trim, perfectly tuned, overly complicated (?), and never winning. I think I love it almost as much as Feed by M.T. Anderson, sitting here stuck in it's bewildering but perfectly sensible afterglow. I don't know if it's quite as pertinent but it's so... core, man. (Obviously it's good enough to try making up new slang for) But it's basic, and surprisingly lives up to Jonathan Stroud's recommendation on the cover as being gripping as a vice. I was trying to talk my husband into reading it, because I need more people to read it for opinions on if it's legally "teen" or not as well as to find out if 1, it's as good as I think it is and 2, if it is that good I need to talk to folks about it. At the same time, I'm feeling that this one would be easy to cast off and set aside and pretend that I get it and that everything is alright, but that dismisses the power of its central ideas. So, I'm rambling here, but it's worth a read- and be sure to let me know what you think when you're done.
P.S. Oh, and I think I liked it better than most folks seem to because I didn't read the descriptions of what it's about. Skip the front flap and the summaries on amazon and goodreads and just dive in. It's sort of like Castaway... knowing from the way too detailed previews that Tom Hanks makes it off the island sort of ruins half the movie....more
While I was hoping for something a little bit Hunger Games like and had expectations due to Brandon Sanderson's recommendation of this book and appareWhile I was hoping for something a little bit Hunger Games like and had expectations due to Brandon Sanderson's recommendation of this book and apparent friendship with the author I thought this was one of the worst books I've read it a while. I didn't like any of the characters which made the book hard to get into, perhaps one of the problems with having a protagonist who doesn't know who he is. What was even worse is that I found that I didn't really care what the solution to all the mysteries were. Yes, the whole set up is pretty creepy and it has elements of survival and innovation through breaking the rules but if the book doesn't draw you in, why read it? The setting is also maybe a little too blank to latch on to- its constructedness makes it rather unlikable. So I don't think I'll be reading any of the rest of the series. After wading through that one and getting no answers, no bread crumbs, I think I'm done....more
I was rather into the beginning of this book, watching Reynie and the other children creatively solve the puzzles but eventually found that the authorI was rather into the beginning of this book, watching Reynie and the other children creatively solve the puzzles but eventually found that the author couldn't keep up with the dense pace of these intellectual explorations. There are puzzles later in the book but the plot seems to temporarily lag between them and is not particularly interesting in and of itself. I liked the characters reasonably well, with fun personalities and generous amount of incredibly capable females both as adults and children, although the leader of both the good faction and the evil are both male. The book may be more fun, both for younger readers and those without an audio recording since the sags in the plot can be eliminated by simply reading through these sections quicker....more
I'm not up to a review at the moment, but the quote seemed to be good thought material in terms of the book: "This is the undeniable pleasure we deriveI'm not up to a review at the moment, but the quote seemed to be good thought material in terms of the book: "This is the undeniable pleasure we derive from looking at freaks, beings excluded from the category of the human.The sense of superiority over the freak conjoined in varying proportions with the titillation of fear and aversion makes it possible for moral scruples, to be lifted, for cruelty to be enjoyed." -Susan Sontag, “The Imagination of Disaster” in Against Interpretation (New York: Anchor Books, 1990): 215....more
While my husband's high expectations were not met by the book, I found Watchmen complex and rewarding, although I have to say that I had very few expeWhile my husband's high expectations were not met by the book, I found Watchmen complex and rewarding, although I have to say that I had very few expectations, except that it would be shorter, which I'm glad that it wasn't. I found the characters to be fascinating (I have to say that Rorschach is my favourite) and well developed, although somewhat difficult to follow, especially in the amount of characters from the past that still make periodic appearances in flashbacks. Plot is not really the story's strength- instead the main appeal is how it's presented. I love when two unrelated things are happening at the same time in the same frame and somehow manage to comment on each other. For example, the pirate comic strip overlayed against street life as the newspaper stand guy rambles or a tv broadcast against the actions of the characters who aren't watching it... The little visual cues and secrets are also great. There's lots of information hidden in the pictures, advertisements, signs, and even in the colours. This is certainly one to read leisurely, flipping bad to recheck the hidden meaning of dream sequences and the intricacies of the characters.
My review for our work booklist: This is the most amazingly sophisticated graphic novel. While the movie was a rather poor rendition, the words and pictures combine to create a piece that examines different attitudes toward justice through the mixed media of story, dialog, pictures, and articles. Set during the Cold War, a group of old, mostly washed-up superheroes is drawn together by Rorschach’s investigation into the death of one of their members. If you haven’t tried a graphic novel before, this one is an intense rewarding experience with so much symbolism and nuance to the illustrations that even the depths of humanity can be explored....more