I often look for fiction that I find actually frightening. I'm not easily scarred, and although I don't consider fright to be the only thing I look fo...moreI often look for fiction that I find actually frightening. I'm not easily scarred, and although I don't consider fright to be the only thing I look for in horror, I am pleased when I can find something scary. Several stories in this collection were downright terrifying. "Lagerstӓtte" was haunting and unsettling, "Mysterium Tremendum" had moments that were quite disturbing and left me a bit chilled as did "Catch Hell". The one that left me curled up in my living room recliner, slowly pushing the book away from me, and deciding maybe I should take a break for the evening was "The Broadsword".
But beyond the ability to terrorize his reader, Barron has an amazing range in skill. In all of his stories the depth of his characters was astounding. I find many authors, even good authors, are only able to write a handful of characters, and at a certain point all that changes are names and anecdotes. Every person in this collection seemed complete, and whole and unique. Also the tone and voice in each piece was quite different, to the point that I would have believed a different author had written each. I was perplexed by some of his endings. Several of his stories seemed to be on a trajectory of twist or a pointed finale and instead ended elsewhere, sometimes rather nebulously. At times I could sense myself building with anticipation for what I had assumed would come... only to be left with less answers. I can't decide if I liked these endings, but I do know it didn't stop me from wanting to read more and relishing the words on the page.
Never have I been so relived and happy to be done with a book. Goodkind has an amazing ability to play with a reader's emotions; with all of his plot...moreNever have I been so relived and happy to be done with a book. Goodkind has an amazing ability to play with a reader's emotions; with all of his plot twists, cliffhangers and whatnot the last 200 pages proved gruelingly nail-biting. I was relived that nearly everything reached a sort of resolution, and the series has given me a bit of respite before I venture into the next volume.(less)
An astoundingly well written novel that breaks out genre stereotypes and any other expectations I had for it. Definitely not for the weak of heart (an...moreAn astoundingly well written novel that breaks out genre stereotypes and any other expectations I had for it. Definitely not for the weak of heart (and stomach) The Last Werewolf is wickedly dark and cruel, the characters seem to be overflowing with humanity and the author seems to lack any fear of going to unfathomable depths of emotion and desire. (less)
**spoiler alert** The Crystal Shard by R.A Salvatore is often noted as a classic in the fantasy genre. Speaking to some adults who have read the book...more**spoiler alert** The Crystal Shard by R.A Salvatore is often noted as a classic in the fantasy genre. Speaking to some adults who have read the book it, also seems to be one despised by many who are over the age of twenty, mainly for it’s poor writing. In truth I cannot ague against this complaint, the writing is mediocre at best, and I did find it to detract from the story. Sentences read as a hodgepodge of gratuitously inserted adjectives. One could spend a large amount of time picking apart Salvatore’s prose, but frankly I don’t have much interest in writing that review. To find the value in this work, one has to look at the age group that finds it so enthralling. (Be forewarned, spoilers ahead).
This title definitely caters to young men, mainly in their teens and the reason for this attraction is what interests me. Of course there is the obvious inclusion of violence and gore, but beyond that Salvatore included many themes that made this novel so successful for the tweens and teens. There are several representations of almost idealistic father son relationships. The book arguably has three main protagonists, Bruennor Battlehammer a somewhat gruff dwarf, Drizzt Do'Urden a kind and extremely skilled dark elf (drow that is) and Wulfgar, a young human Barbarian rescued in battle by the dwarf. Bruennor and Drizzt are stern and demanding mentors, but show a lot of compassion and pride in Wulfgar. By the end of the novel, Salvatore has both these characters treat Wulfgar as an equal (I would argue moreso than any actual father would). This representation of the hard to please, older male role model who eventually accepts the younger apprentice, is used to draw such teenage readers in. Making both of these “father figures” not actually wulfgar's biological parents, is crucial to the success of this. It’s a bit of a slide of hand; by toning down the theme Salvatore makes this inclusion acceptable to his audience and a bit less noticeable (especially if one is concentrating on axe swinging and entrails). It also is more effective because it removes the implied obligation that an actual parent would have on a child.
Another theme Salvatore plays with is the loner or outsider. Both Wulfgar and Dritzzt don't fit in, but are made to look cool because of this. In fact, Salvatore is fairly careful to keep both of these characters as rouges from society, and only strengthens the bonds within the small group of central people.
Then there’s the villain…
Akar Kessel, a young and inept wizard’s apprentice, is depicted as a social recluse, and the hyperbole of his myriad of character flaws, adds to the reader’s hatred of him. Kessel is abhorrent because he represents things that we hate most in ourselves, especially as teenagers. He is clumsy and incompetent and then his own mentors use his inferior skill and overcompensation for lack of self-confidence against him.
Kessel’s actions are the exact opposite of the young protagonist, Wulfgar. He kills his only mentor in hopes of no longer being an outside. Wulfgar on the other hand embraces the fact that he is different and slowly accepts his father figures more and more. Take what you will from these actions, but I personally was left with almost cheesy "trust your parents and stop trying to fit in so much" message.
One thing that the adult reader might struggle with is Kessel’s motivation after he finds the shard. One would have expected such a charter to seek revenge when given a magical artifact of immense power, but for some reason Salvatore shies away from this. Kessel is given an increasingly insatiable lust for power. One could argue that the shard determined most of kessel’s motivations, but that seems like such a boring route to take: an antagonist, which is effectively, a magical rock that thirsts for power for seemingly no reason. One could also try to fit the theme of "absolute power corrupts absolutely" on this character, but Kessel's character doesn't have many redeeming qualities to begin with, which leaves more of a “bad people who obtain tons of power are really awful” message, which is not all that insightful. Looking deeper, Kessel is bumbling, self-absorbed, slow-witted, physically weak and easily manipulated, and that's why teenagers can relate to him and adults might have a hard time. For the adult reader, this character just seems ridiculous, but the younger reader can empathize with his want for power, and they are just as willing to cast away the idea of revenge away as Akar Kessel is. Much like all of us in our youth, his loathing isn’t directed at those who were cruel to him, but to himself.
My opinion of this manga has been tainted by the anime. How does one regain the initial suspense and wonder they have when they encounter a work for t...moreMy opinion of this manga has been tainted by the anime. How does one regain the initial suspense and wonder they have when they encounter a work for the first time? Besides that, it can be hard to maintain a fresh look on the first work in a series when you've seen the ending of the last. Still, I'll try because I think Death note is worth reading.
Death Note constantly questions ones moral compass, which is quite profound for a comic strip geared towards 17 year-olds about a magical notebook of murder. Besides asking the obvious "what would you do?" question that this book poses, the question that kept surfacing in my mind was "Why am a rooting for the bad guy?" and there is no helping it. By the end of this book I found myself vested. I may have set myself apart from the Light Yugami, the protagonist, and proclaimed up and down that I would never make the choices he did, but like it or not, I reveled in his successes.
You could argue that real genius was afoot when Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata thought this one up. If Light had been an adult, the reader would have called foul play. By making him young though, his flaws in moral judgment seem forgivable, and it stirs up the raw emotion everyone once had as an adolescent. It is also interesting that the death note itself, although fantastical in nature, parallels the weapons in our day, being able to strike people down from far away without getting one's hands dirty. That right there is where the age of Light really matters most, its hard to sympathize or even relate to nations and governments deciding they must purge the world of evil, but one can wrap their head around such feelings in a high school student.
I was able to forgive the few shortcomings interspersed throughout the manga rather quickly. Personally, I wanted more buildup in the beginning. It would have been interesting to me to see what kind of person Light was before he found the Death Note. Also, Light's declarations of righteousness throughout the comic can be over the top, but in some ways this hyperbole echoes back to the fact that Light is representing people and powers that must feel that they are so correct in their actions that they border on godliness.
The fantastical nature of this work also speaks to how delusional the idea of cleansing the world of evil is... or getting rid of all the terrorists, or I dare say the united states epic war on drugs. This idea, that through sheer willpower and determination we can succeed in removing that which we find repugnant. I think that is where Death Note shines, in showing us how desirable such things can be, while reminding us how unrealistic such goals are.