The concept of bringing a lot of 19th century literary characters together to solve a mystery is definitely a fun one — although not unique, at least,...moreThe concept of bringing a lot of 19th century literary characters together to solve a mystery is definitely a fun one — although not unique, at least, not any more in an age of mash-up stories. I enjoyed spotting literary allusions and also learning more about characters or original stories that I was not familiar with. The art is superb. The section with all the Chinese dialog is actually fairly accurate. Kudos! I think I’ll go over all the panels more than once just to enjoy the artists’ talents. Another aspect that’s extraordinarily fun is how the whole thing is done in an 1898 serial publication style. All in all, worth my time!(less)
Although I thoroughly enjoyed many many aspects of this book, including its relentless social commentary about our current world and the author's abil...moreAlthough I thoroughly enjoyed many many aspects of this book, including its relentless social commentary about our current world and the author's ability to present a global scene of one disaster that affects everyone on earth, and many of the scenes are haunting and affective. There are a few things that I thought are less successful:
Once in a while, you kind of "hear" some interviewees' own voices but most of the time, you are just reading the reports from one person and that person is not very good at faithfully capturing the voices he encountered. Instead, most of the segments have the same sentence structures and choices of words or ways to present ideas so there are not the kind of oral history authenticity that one expects and thus lacks refreshing varieties. After 1/3 of the book, you feel like you're being "droned on."
The "plot" lacks an emotional arc -- it follows a chronology of the war and at the very end some of the characters reappear to give their final says about WWZ but those words of wisdom pack little or no emotional punches. And the book just ends. When I finally finished the last page (after reading it quite slowly for something that's supposed to be gripping,) my reaction was a plain, "Good, now I can get on to another, more exciting book." The irony is that in the Introduction, the reporter/narrator specifically claims that he compiled these stories for their emotional values and that this book is not his but those who he interviewed, and how he has "tried to maintain as invisible a presence as possible," while the whole time you cannot quite get to the emotional core or authentic voices of the interviewed.
I do understand that it is extremely high calling to tell a story via so many voices and Brooks achieved quite a bit in this audacious, imaginative, and oftentimes enlightening, book. (I would love to have known a little more of the origin of the virus and why there were outbreaks in remote spots of the world without the people being exposed to infected cases and I would love to have had a better understanding the environmental impact caused by the Z's -- why the global drop in temperature or the pollution, for example.)
The first installment in the long series focuses mostly on the relationships of the living with the backdrop of extreme hardship of the zombie plague....moreThe first installment in the long series focuses mostly on the relationships of the living with the backdrop of extreme hardship of the zombie plague. I imagine that that will be the flavor for the rest of the series. The author does a great job capturing the characters' traits and presenting the interplays between characters with conflicting interests. The tension is high, the dialog realistic, and the artwork is well executed. Now I have to read the rest of the series!(less)
It is quite powerful: Annie Sullivan's story has been one of the most powerful human stories after all -- Miller adds a little more to its power when...moreIt is quite powerful: Annie Sullivan's story has been one of the most powerful human stories after all -- Miller adds a little more to its power when she imagined Annie's selfish hunger at that human connection which she so lacked as a child and young woman before she met Helen. The story of the young Annie and her family is woven in quite seamlessly and effectively to the "Miracle Worker" plot line. It's also unusual that this is a book for fairly young readers told from a first person adult point of view.
I didn't give it the top rating because the latter part of the story drags on just a little bit (although I do understand that Annie had to be frustrated with the pace of the progress at the time and this pacing reflects that frustration, and because it didn't quite stretch beyond the story presented in "Miracle Worker" the play. There is much documentation out there that recorded the further events/education of Helen Keller and obviously Miller consulted quite a few of them. With her skills in re-divining the events and emotions, she would have been able to write a few more scenes to present the Kellers' reaction to Helen's development and especially of interest to me is how she jumped from associating Objects with Words to understanding Abstract Meanings and linking Thoughts to Words. (less)
I file this under fantasy because it IS. And maybe slightly Sci-Fi as well since it does deal with "science" and is set in a parallel universe. In rea...moreI file this under fantasy because it IS. And maybe slightly Sci-Fi as well since it does deal with "science" and is set in a parallel universe. In reality, it is a fantasy set in an alternative world in an alternative history. (Reminded me of Jonathan Strange a bit.)
It was not a book that I was compelled to read in a couple of sittings but it was a book that I definitely savored -- for its thinking (Author's Note: This book contains some [thinking]. Whether you try it at home is up to you.) and for its intelligent humor and the portrayal of a beautiful, slightly romantic, friendship between a (supposedly) British girl and a "native" boy. p. 358: "And now we both walk away, without regrest, and when we meet again, it will be as old friends." Although not entirely, but this resembles Will and Lyra's final parting and made me cry.
I absolutely appreciated Pratchett's matter-of-fact narrative voice and will not easily forget some of the highly memorable and vivid scenes. The scene where Mau has to deal with the sea burial all the bodies of his people by separating his conscious mind from his unconscious in dealing with severe trauma is simply brilliant!(less)
I actually can’t assess books and writing confidently when I encounter them as an audio book. I enjoyed this listening experience, even though I found...moreI actually can’t assess books and writing confidently when I encounter them as an audio book. I enjoyed this listening experience, even though I found the narrator’s voice quite shrill and her altered voices for several characters annoyed me quite a bit. I thought that for certain young readers who like animal stories, this one offers a host of exciting bits. The militant owls are truly scary and disturbing, and this volume as a whole is an “origin” story of how the “Band” of these unlikely heroes is formed — a tried and true theme popular with readers in adventure tales. The Owl-ness of how things are in this particular imagined world is convincing enough to allow for suspension of disbelief. I am not seeking to read the rest of the series (16 volumes now) but am happy to stock them in the library for interested readers.(less)
Just re-read this recently and am still marveling at the genius that was Ursula Nordstrom and all that she did to shape the American Children's Litera...moreJust re-read this recently and am still marveling at the genius that was Ursula Nordstrom and all that she did to shape the American Children's Literature world. Leonard Marcus did a fabulous job setting up the stage for the readers and selecting the letters to convey all facets of this marvelous editor.(less)
Had a lot of fun with this second volume in the Belgariad Series. The large scale battle scenes are so grand and exciting. The characters remain true...moreHad a lot of fun with this second volume in the Belgariad Series. The large scale battle scenes are so grand and exciting. The characters remain true to their personalities and are often humorously presented. The world becomes more well defined as the series moves on and (Bel)Garion is maturing in a realistic and convincing way. Formulaic? Yes. But, like a good recipe, in different cooks' hands, even without new inventions or varied spices, the outcomes can all still be very appetizing. (How many times have I had loved and been satisfied by the same hot chocolate?) (less)
I like the way King builds imagery of the world and the scenes are so vivid -- and he took the time to slowly unveil the details and the character's p...moreI like the way King builds imagery of the world and the scenes are so vivid -- and he took the time to slowly unveil the details and the character's past. I like the blending of the real, the surreal, and the ultra-real; the past, the present, and the future -- and how the future seems so much in the past. He wrote it at the beginning of his career and you can tell the "need" to write descriptively, metaphorically, with unusual and "big" words. I wonder if the subsequent novels show growth in how he built his sentences to be clearer and cleaner. Reading this book was like walking inside someone's prolonged nightmare -- very dreamy and slightly scary but in a tantalizing way. (less)