I read these as chap books as they came out each week. Sometimes they were pretty wicked short and other times they were a little longer. Regardless,...moreI read these as chap books as they came out each week. Sometimes they were pretty wicked short and other times they were a little longer. Regardless, I ALWAYS wanted more! The first chapter, The B-Team, starts with a bang, and just as you're like, oh, okay, and settling in to getting to know your characters, there's another bang and you're left feeling a little betrayed. But as you pick up with the b-team, you quickly forget the early sense of betrayal because the b-team is totally awesome.
This book is hilariously funny. Scalzi, in general, is a funny writer, but this book had me snortling all over the place. I got lots of funny looks as I read on the train. But seriously, the situations our two main guys find themselves in are absurd in the best possible way and their friendship is adorable and snarky. I admit, I kind of kept waiting for them to make out, but it never happened.
When they're not busy getting spat upon or starting diplomatic incidents, our team somehow keeps finding themselves at the center of conspiracies, a potential war, and murder. Throughout, the science part of the fiction is cleverly written, giving enough science to satisfy without getting bogged down, and the world is well built, giving you the framework of the Old Man's War 'verse without rehashing everything.
The characters, main and secondary are well drawn, smart, tough, and snarky as hell. One of my favorite things - and something that's seriously lacking, generally - are all the excellent female characters. It easily passes the the Bechdel Test which is so, so refreshing.
After reading this and Scalzi's Redshirts, I'm definitely a fan of his and plan on reading all his stuff soon!(less)
So, this book came in the mail one day and I have no freaking clue where it came from. But the premise looked really good, so I just praised the book...moreSo, this book came in the mail one day and I have no freaking clue where it came from. But the premise looked really good, so I just praised the book gods who deposited this book on my doorstep and started reading.
I found the book to be pretty ho hum right from the get go and my frustration just mounted as I got deeper in. The premise - the oil is gone and a new technology is going to change the face of the world - as I said, sounded awesome. The delivery, however, didn't every really deliver. The prose felt really milquetoast and the characters were all caricatures, not to mention the author has a kind of weird fixation on autism. It was clear the author had grand visions for his world and he really almost got there, but in the end, he just wasn't able to make it come to life in a way that wasn't cliché
At one point I started dog-ear-ing pages that had things that didn't make sense or were irritating. I lasted about 100 pages, dog-ear-ing something about every 5-10 pages, before I finally gave up. There was just too much. There's voter apathy, but millions show up to a street protest. Revo's lived her life as a tough as nails scientist, but falls to pieces as the slightest provocation. The guy does something with his right leg on one page, but then it's the left on next. A gun magazine only holds enough bullets to fire for a third of a second. There's clunky, ridiculous dialog.
In the end, I was really disappointed with the world building and the characters. I won't be reading the next two books in the series.(less)
I'll admit it right up front, I expected to hate this book. I went into it expecting to hate it. From its updated cover to its widespread popularity,...moreI'll admit it right up front, I expected to hate this book. I went into it expecting to hate it. From its updated cover to its widespread popularity, I figured I'd hate it. I was primed to hate it. Despite all my predispositions, I actually really, really enjoyed this book. In fact, I've found myself defending it to people whom I respect who really didn't like/hated it.
I suppose I can imagine an audience who won't like this book. If you don't like overarching sadness without an over-overarching theme, this book probably isn't for you. If you were the cool/mean/hip/beautiful kid in school, you might like this book less. If you're a physicist/cosmologist, this book might drive you nuts (I'm not sure). I, however, loving sadness, having been the outcast in school, and having only a basic physics class in my academic history, loved this book.
We're introduced to this world immediately in a retrospective way. It's clear from the opening paragraph, sentence, even, that this story is told from memory. The Julia from whose perspective the story is told is not the eleven year old girl in the story; she's an older, wiser Julia, but a Julia not so much older or wiser that she has lost the feeling of what it is to be eleven in a strange world. That threshold between eleven and twelve isn't just a threshold between years and grades in school, but a tangible threshold between real childhood and that twilight between childhood and adulthood, wherein you learn to navigate the lies, prevarications, and responsibilities of adulthood. Only, Julia has to navigate this already fraught time in an era of the "slowing." For whatever reason, the Earth begins to spin more slowly as it traipses around the sun. The repercussions of this slowing are manifold and pervasive: Life on Earth cannot continue as it has and all of humanity must adapt.
Yet, the peril of the people of Earth isn't what's central to this story. What's central is what I think the author was hoping is our main remembrance of middle school. I identified deeply with Julia. In middle school, I was a member of the crossing guard and I took its duties, down to pausing with my hand over my heart if I happened to be present at the raising or lowering of the flag, seriously. I was a serious and sensitive kid who hid from the other kids as often as I could. I still experienced that mystical and hurtful ebb and flow of friendship. Julia stayed put and everything shifted out from under her. I moved constantly over an essentially stable bedrock, and maybe this is where some of my enjoyment of this book came from. I could easily see myself in Julia's shoes, acting as she acted. This experience of middle school isn't universal, however, and if you weren't of Julia's tribe, you might not be able to sympathise with her experience.
Nearly the entire span of the book is a seminal six months of Julia's life. There's a little intro and there a little more "outro," but the meat is what happens in the few moths (clock time) between the ages of eleven and twelve. There's nothing terribly extraordinary (well, maybe a couple of things...), but mostly it's Julia growing up. This is ordinarily really, seriously not my cup of tea, but the writing was so lyrical and melancholy, that I was drawn in at the start.
This was a book that I could not put down and read within a couple of days. If you have a single long, uninterrupted day, I think you could probably finish it. The prose are not dense but they are soaring and poetic. The author has the habit of ending each subsection/chapter with a simple sentence that highlights the starkness, desperation, and fear the characters are feeling. I loved these sentences as as reminder of where we were and how scary and unsettling it was to live through it. Somewhere in the middle it got a little tedious, but then the story picked back up and I returned to appreciating them as a harsh luftpause, making immediate the circumstances our characters were living in.
Another thing I appreciated was how the author brought to life all the small, silly things we do everyday that give us depth. I can't give examples of these things without making them seem one dimensional, but as you read, the characters will do things, described in such a way, that you will say, yes, I do that, or I know that! It makes the characters much more relatable than they might have been and makes you feel more a part of the story.
More than one person I've talked to has expressed disappointment with the end of the story. I felt no such disappointment. I felt like it was the logical conclusion to what had gone before. To go further would be yet another story.
What I loved about this book was that it was told from the memory of a late twenty-something about a time over ten years ago. The mundane is mixed with the fantastical and truth is intertwined with embellishment. The resultant story is, I think, charming, engrossing, and, in some way, completely removed from its eleven year old protagonist. I wouldn't consider this book Young Adult and I think the charming and heart breaking nuance of being on the cusp of teenagerhood would be lost on an audience still at that age or too close to it to look on it with nostalgia.
And that, ultimately, I think is the triumph of this book. It takes all the uncertainty and anger and fear and love and passion that we feel at that age and channels it into the slowing. Our protagonist is at times fearful, impetuous, bold, and silent. She's us at the cusp of a great change. She's the best and worst of us. She's frightfully relatable, for all her foibles. She's a child of eleven, learning how to navigate social interaction in a world that is changing more rapidly than any previous generation has seen. She's a girl who ultimately makes her way to womanhood, despite her fears of being left behind.
What Thomson Walker has given us is permission to be that scared little kid in times when we're supposed to be so self-assured. She's affirmed that we all have come from somewhere that maybe it doesn't look anything like where we are now. And she's boldly asserted that humans continue, regardless of the adversities. Pimples and all, people will continue and struggle to survive. And for a book with such an overriding sense of melancholy, that's what I take away. Certain doom is knocking at our door but we will not fold. We will continue on in multifaceted variations, and we will continue until there is no one left to innovate. But until the last of us, we will struggle on.
I was excited to see this book at the library, as the jacket blurb made it seem like it was right up my alley. From the get go, however, I was pretty...moreI was excited to see this book at the library, as the jacket blurb made it seem like it was right up my alley. From the get go, however, I was pretty disappointed. The internal logic is flimsy, the writing alternates between overly florid and choppy, the main love interest is totally creepy, and the world building is haphazard and shallow.
We're introduced to America-Five and their perfect life. There's no hunger, no poverty, no want of any kind. Sexual relationships are discouraged by the founders, the Alphas, and purely intellectual relationships based on the Ethical Code are encouraged. I can only surmise that all these people are sterile since there's no contraception and physical relationships do happen. New children are created via genetic engineering and incubated in vats. Each generation is named after the Greek alphabet. Our heroine is an Epsilon.
A lot of time is spent describing the Dome and life in it, but it's so implausible that I could only shake my head and forge ahead. Then we're introduced to the Ethical Code which was also so painfully flimsy that I just had to ignore it. Seeing as how it's the basis for the whole plot of the book, though, I kept having to deal with it.
Natasha Wiley is our intensely naïve, slightly Mary Sue heroine. She makes a string of painfully bad decisions, aided by the complete inattention of everyone in America-Five. Her sexual relationship with a member of another generation is made deeply creepy by a revelation later in the book.
There was a little in this book to like and a lot to dislike. Fiercely uneven from beginning to end, I can't recommend this book to anyone. (less)