Yeah, the book was just OK for me. Not terrible. Not great. Nothing like most of Sanderson's other work...though now it makes me a bit afraid to try TYeah, the book was just OK for me. Not terrible. Not great. Nothing like most of Sanderson's other work...though now it makes me a bit afraid to try The Rithmatist, knowing he also wrote that with YA in mind. But, let's be honest. I'm not all that into superheroes to start with. So it's going to be rocky from the get-go. Basically, there was too much emphasis in my opinion on the fighting and the weapons, not enough emphasis on everything else. And David's "metaphors" (mostly actually similes, as a character points out in the end) are just grating.
The world-building, when it was there, was interesting. There just wasn't enough. The character development was equally interesting, if not always...well, to say it was "inconsistent" is to use the wrong word, but the characters are too black and white, not enough gray. It makes some of their decisions somewhat puzzling and their inability to learn or do things you'd expect downright frustrating.
The odd thing is that even though this book wasn't for me (and frankly, neither were Steelheart or Mitosis), I'm probably going to read the third (and hopefully final) book in this series. The world is just that interesting/the idea behind it, from the glimpses so far...are compelling. I hope the final book, Calamity, has fewer "metaphors."...more
Audiobook from Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd Narrated by Sean Mangan Length: About 4.5 hours
I've never heard of Matthew Reilly, but apparently he's a fairlAudiobook from Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd Narrated by Sean Mangan Length: About 4.5 hours
I've never heard of Matthew Reilly, but apparently he's a fairly big author from Australia. The buzz on the internet (based on other reviews at Goodreads and Wikipedia) is that he's mostly know for action thriller-type books, and apparently his books are well-researched and quite deep. That isn't the case with this book, Troll Mountain: The Complete Novel. That said, I get the impression that his other books are not young adult books, so maybe that's why.
Originally written as a serialized novel (split into three parts), Troll Mountain is the story of Raf, a youth from a small village, and his quest to get an elixir for his sick sister. To get this elixir, he must defy his village elders and make his way to Troll Mountain, a mountain fortress guarded by...yes, trolls. The sickness (which turns out to be something like scurvy) has impacted not just Raf's sister but others in his village, caused in part because the trolls have dammed the river that feeds the village. They also claim to have come up with a cure for the sickness, but exact a costly price--one life in exchange for a vial. During his quest, Raf makes friends with a hermit, Ko, who is a wise elder figure. He also makes unlikely friends with a troll who was exiled from Troll Mountain, Doom. Together, the three take on the trolls and hope to save the day. Along the way, Raf also learns about stereotypes and about knowledge-seeking, and not taking everything you've heard second-hand at face-value.
This book is a short stand-alone novel. It's a fairly generic, semi-predictable tale of an orphan boy on a quest to save his village. It does appear that the author has left some hooks in the book to write pre-quels and/or sequels, though. The world is setup as a fairly primitive land with a history where people seemed to be the humans of today. It also ends in a predictable manner but in a way that could explore "what happens next" if Reilly desired to re-visit this world. Throughout the quest, Ko tries to give Raf lessons about life, though it seems that sometimes even Ko doesn't follow his own lessons. For example, there was "common knowledge" that the mountains in the North went on forever, but when Raf realized they didn't, Ko didn't believe him and seemed shocked. This was a bit of a flaw in Ko's character and made him seem inconsistent. There was another lesson that Ko tried to impart, about the difference between cleverness and wisdom, that didn't really come to much fruition. The other "morals" that were fairly generically written all came back around by the end of the story.
All in all, this was an ok book. It was too obvious what was going to happen, and the world nor characters weren't particularly well-developed. They ended up feeling a little flat, a little too predictable. More frustrating, the sense of struggle or real danger was never there while I listened. It seemed like Raf was going to get through every obstacle a little too easily, and his survival/success were never in question. I realize that it was written for a young adult audience. I think that if I'd read it when I was 9 or 10, it might have felt less flat, as I was a far less mature reader in general and longer books with numerous details would have probably lost me or at least, not been fully appreciated/understood. So, this is probably an OK book for a younger reader who's never read the genre and isn't looking for complexity. I'm not sure that I can really recommend it for experienced readers of the genre.
I should make a comment on the narration. The narrator was a bit slow for me. He would pause after each sentence for longer than I expected. Also, some of his pronunciation was a bit odd, but that might be because he was Australian. Anyway, I ended up using the faster audio speed setting within the iPhone playback and it worked reasonably well. The narration was fine if nothing particularly special....more
Like the show on ABC Family, this book shouldn't win any awards but it does have a way of setting up various mysteries that leave you wanting to readLike the show on ABC Family, this book shouldn't win any awards but it does have a way of setting up various mysteries that leave you wanting to read more. The show was great for me when I was recovering from my latest back surgery; I could watch it and not have to use too much of my brain but stay intrigued and entertained. As I expected, the book was pretty fluffy but entertaining, a book that was easy to listen to while doing work around the house or even while doing slightly brain-involving tasks...
Basically, it's a story of 4 girls, juniors in high school in Perfect Town (Rosewood), PA. They were very good friends in 7th grade, along with another girl, Allison (Ally) DeLaurentis. However, on the last day of 7th grade, Ally disappeared. Since then, the girls have drifted apart, and are only brought together again when they start getting mysterious letters, emails, and text messages from a person calling themselves "A." This person, whoever it is, knows each of the girls' deepest secrets, stuff that only Ally knew. But Ally is gone...or is she? Toward the end of the book, a few of the girls have dreams where they talk to Ally...but then, Ally's body is found, which more or less ends the first book. There is more I know that's "to come" because I've watched the TV show. It's interesting, this book really only covered the first episode or two of the show.
I kind of want to read the rest of the books in the series, because I'm hoping that at some point we find out who A really is and what's going on with Ally...and I suspect I can read the books more quickly than the TV show will answer those questions. That said, I guess I'll wait for a later time, as my current queue is long enough. ;) ...more
I've seen mixed reviews of this book from typical Brandon Sanderson fans, so I'll admit that I wasn't sure what to expect. Unlike the traditional fantI've seen mixed reviews of this book from typical Brandon Sanderson fans, so I'll admit that I wasn't sure what to expect. Unlike the traditional fantasy that I usually read from him, this was a sort of post-apocalyptic (or post-Calamitous) sci fi ish story.
The backdrop for the story is that at some point before the story started, an event called "the Calamity" or "Calamity" occurred. Not much is known or at least said about Calamity, but it seems to be some sort of alien ship or spy satellite or something that has resulted in a new bright object in the sky and the creation of super beings on Earth. As the Prologue opens, these "Epics" have started to wreak havoc on the USA (it's not clear if this is a USA-only problem), though it's about to get super-crazy for the residents of Chicago. An Epic called Steelheart has come to town, and makes his move to basically run Chicago. After an event at a bank where he kills almost everybody--including the protagonist's father--and then buries the evidence and all the survivors (or so he thinks, though David escapes this fate), Steelheart turns the town to steel, forming Newcago. Surviving the event, David is the sole witness to one key thing: he watched Steelheart bleed. Normally, it's very hard to kill or even harm an Epic. In addition to super-powers, they also seem to have minimal weaknesses, weaknesses that must be determined and exploited.
But all hope is not quite lost. A group called the Reckoners has formed, and they work tirelessly to take out Epics. David isn't a member at the beginning of the story, though since Steelheart killed his father, he's made it his primary business to learn as much as he can about the Epics, their weaknesses, their patterns, their strengths...all Epics, not just Steelheart, though his hope is to one day take out Steelheart. The first third of the story or so is of David joining the Reckoners. Of course, he must prove himself and gain their trust, and then he has to be trained in their ways. After that, they work to learn more about Steelheart with the eventual plan of trying to take him down. The book culminates, as you might expect, with a massive showdown with Steelheart.
To be fair, this book was fairly predictable in many ways. It definitely had Sanderson's characteristic "new magic system" (in this case, the powers of the Epics and the "twist" that each had unique and specific weaknesses), which is always refreshing, but otherwise it followed pretty typical adventure-type story paths. There was a "twist" in the book that not only was I completely expecting to come in general, but I called what it was really early on. Nothing particularly surprised me. That's not to say that the book wasn't enjoyable--it was. But it wasn't as (pardon the use of the term) epic as Sanderson's work typically is. I'll probably read the rest of the series as the books get released, but I probably won't be lining up to buy and read them day one (like I am doing with Stormlight).
Oh yeah, I had a physical copy of this book that I'd bought at Barnes & Noble. I bought the physical copy because Sanderson released 4 versions for different booksellers, each with a different chapter annotated. The B&N version had chapter 1 annotated. It was fun to read that chapter after getting pretty far into the book, to see his process but also to see where he was setting up certain traits and such. I was happy to see that I'd picked up on various things he set up, and it was cool to see them come to fruition as he expected/outlined in the annotations....more
Audiobook from Penguin Audio Narrated by Mariel Stern, Steven Kaplan Length: 7 and 3/4 hours
A dystopian novel set in a future where The United States ofAudiobook from Penguin Audio Narrated by Mariel Stern, Steven Kaplan Length: 7 and 3/4 hours
A dystopian novel set in a future where The United States of America is a forgotten memory, Legend is part science fiction, part thriller, and part romance aimed at young adults.
The story is set sometime in the future in what is now California. The USA is apparently long-gone and instead, North America is divided into The Republic and The Colonies, which seem to be at odds. Generally it seems that The Republic is the western part of the US while The Colonies are the eastern part. From clues in the text, the reader is also lead to believe that The Colonies have more technology than does The Republic, at least in terms of weapons and possibly medicine. The reader doesn't learn much else about The Colonies in this book, since the story is centered on two youth in The Republic. However, it is the first in a planned trilogy and it's possible that future books will explore The Colonies more.
The Republic seems to be a militaristic state. The poor are looked down upon and the "rich" seem to be the ones running the police/militia. Through context clues, we find that nobody--not even the "rich"--are safe from government snooping. There is a plague that seems to mostly impact the poor; the rich get vaccines every year for protection. As a result of the plague, there are regular inspections and "plague checks" of those in the poor areas of town. There are also a lot of natural disasters. Hurricanes occur quite frequently, with co-commitant flooding. Earthquakes are also somewhat regular happenings. Most of this, though, forms the background for the main story.
The bulk of the story surrounds two youths, Dey and June, who are on opposite ends of the class spectrum. Relatively early, we learn that all youths have to go through "The Trials" at age 10. These trials affect ones position in society. Those who do well are allowed to go on to high school and a sort of college, to become leaders in politics and the military. Those who do average are given blue-collar jobs. Those who fail become wards of the state, destined to do menial tasks for their government. Dey failed his trials. June is the only one known to have aced them. Rather than be resigned to his fate, Dey has escaped from the government and spends his time as a bit of a loner, working to help the poor--in particular, his family--by stealing from the military/government. He's particularly good at this and is actually the most wanted criminal in The Republic.
The story itself builds in a rather predictable fashion from there. Dey's family is marked as one that gets the plague. Realizing this, Dey decides to steal the necessary antidote from the hospital. As he escapes, he ends up killing June's brother, Metteaus. June, a top student in the militaristic school, is graduated early and put on the case to try to catch her brother's killer. While trying to find the murderer, June goes undercover and ends up getting rescued from a fight by Dey. At this point, she doesn't realize that Dey is who he is, and they strike up a sort of friendship. Eventually, June figures out Dey's identity and aids in his capture by the police. However, having spent time with him, she has a hard time believing that Dey killed Metteaus. She ends up doing more investigation and learning many uncomfortable truths about The Republic and many of her long-held beliefs are called into question. I won't spoil any more plot details here...
Legend is a fairly typical dystopian novel. It centers on an oppressed lower-class in society and a privileged upper class that mostly is kept in the dark about how the society works and what is really going on. As with many books like it, the protagonists (June and Dey) are resourceful and intelligent...and to some extent, rebellious. Lu doesn't explain all of the mysteries in this book. At one point, a character calls "The United States" a legend of the past, and the reader isn't told how society has gotten to the state its in. It seems reasonable, though, to assume that most of the society doesn't know its own history, since they barely know the reality of the current state of affairs.
Fans of The Hunger Games will recognize key elements common to both books/series. That's not necessarily a bad thing...while Legend is fairly predictable, it was still enjoyable enough. This is a science fiction novel aimed at the young adult crowd and isn't particularly deep on ideas. Lu wraps themes common to the genre in a fast-paced plot. There's nothing groundbreaking, but fans of the genre probably won't mind. That said, I'm not sure I need to read the rest of the trilogy. It will be interesting to see where Lu takes it.
I listened to the audio version of this book. There were two narrators. The book is written from the viewpoints of Dey and June and alternates between these viewpoints. Mariel Stern read the parts from June's point of view, Steven Kaplan read the parts for Dey's. The reading was fine, though nothing particular stood out. Where some narrators do a bit of voice acting, trying to put more emotion into the voices and use different voices for each character, neither Stern nor Kaplan seemed to do that here; it was a more flat rather than dramatic reading. The only "excitement" in the narration came during the climax, where it seemed that Stern read more quickly, as if her reading speed was trying to keep pace with the story. The "flatness" of the reading doesn't detract from the story, though. In fact, it can be far better than the alternative, as sometimes narration can be distracting if too much acting is done.
All in all, this wasn't a bad book. Sure, it could have gone more deeply into the ideas instead of focusing so much on the plot...but that's OK. Not every book needs to be deep. This one was decent and an enjoyable enough quick read. Young adults (and not-so-young adults) who enjoyed The Hunger Games will probably enjoy this one, too....more
Sadly, Farseed was not nearly as good as its predecessor. Where Earthseed was a book about a spaceship raising kids, preparing them to "seed" other worlds, Farseed was a book about frontier life. The story takes place approximately 30 years after the events in Earthseed. The youth and young adults from Earthseed were left by ship on their world ("Home") and started making their mark on the world. At the end of Earthseed, we saw that a few of the settlers went off on their own to settle in a different region from the main group. Farseed introduces the children of the settlers in addition to the main characters from Earthseed. The bulk of the plot centers on the differences between the two settlement groups. The splinter group, being smaller, has barely survived and has grown to be paranoid about the threat from the original group. When members from the original settlement group try to reach out, the result is fighting between the groups. The daughter of the leader of the splinter group, as one who reached out to the main group, is outcast from her group and serves as the focal point for most of the narrative. Sadly, the narrative is mostly drawn-out descriptions of survival. Gone are the ethical questions from the first book. Gone are the intriguing topics such as how a ship can raise humans. All that's left is a story showing how paranoid the splinter group has become.
There is a small bit of intrigue that comes approximately 2/3 of the way into the book when it is revealed that some of the children from the splinter group aren't quite human. They have skills that surpass normal human skills and a medical scan shows some altered DNA. Further, none of the children from the main group exhibits these traits. Sadly, this wasn't expanded upon in Farseed. It was left as a point of intrigue that went undeveloped. I presume it will come into play in the third book in the trilogy (Seed Seeker), but I don't intend to read it.
Amy Rubinate performed the narration for Farseed, just as she did for Earthseed. As with Earthseed, she did a great job with the book. Her voices were different enough to be able to identify characters and she brought a human edge to the few parts where the ship "spoke." She was able to bring the listener into the story...she just had poor source material this time.
Farseed was a major letdown and was drawn out enough that I fell asleep while listening. I suspect that the length of time that Pamela Sargent took between writing the books (24 years) was a contributing factor. The spark that was in Earthseed wasn't re-captured in Farseed. There wasn't enough to move the plot forward and whet my interest to continue with the series. I do recommend that people read Earthseed and pass on this one....more
Audiobook from Blackstone Audio, Inc. Narrated by Amy Rubinate Length: just under 8 hours
I'm reasonably certain that I read this book when I was a lot yAudiobook from Blackstone Audio, Inc. Narrated by Amy Rubinate Length: just under 8 hours
I'm reasonably certain that I read this book when I was a lot younger. When I saw that the entire Seed trilogy was coming to audio, I looked into them and thought I'd read Earthseed. I know I didn't read the other two books in the series, Farseed and Seed Seeker (the last two were written much later). Regardless, it's understandable why this book is getting attention again, almost 30 years since it was written: it's another YA book that is similar (ish) to The Hunger Games.
In Earthseed, the reader is introduced to Zoharit (spelling? I dunno, I listened to the audio book), one of many teenagers aboard a ship traveling through space. Zoharit, and her ship mates, were all "born" on the ship, created by the ship (known as "Ship") from DNA samples of Ship's creator. Ship was sent from Earth with samples (and programming) from "the last of humanity on Earth," set with a mission to find another world where no intelligent life exists and "seed" the world with humans. Ship raised these kids (about 50ish in total) from birth, teaching them, fulfilling a parental role. We enter the story as the kids, now teens, are getting ready to spend time in the "holo" (I presume it's "holo" and not "hollow," either way, it's a wilderness environment on-board the ship) to train for what it will be like on the surface of the planet. At this point, I'm sure you're thinking that some Lord of the Flies-type story is going to happen (I know that's what I thought), and in fact there are some parallels between Lord of the Flies and Earthseed. However, Sargent does a wonderful job of making the story engaging with some surprising twists and turns along the way. While listening, I felt myself making excuses to listen to more of the story, not wanting to stop. I won't spoil the story, but I will say that at the end, Ship's residents find themselves making a life on the surface of the new planet and Ship goes off to seed another world.
I think it's worth mentioning briefly that I thought Amy Rubinate's narration was superb. I normally don't care for female narrators. Usually they sound too dramatic. But Rubinate did a great job. I could always distinguish the voices of the characters, whether it was two females, two males, or a male and a female talking, and at no point did I feel like it was overdramatized. Also, the voice she used for Ship was a perfect matronly but somewhat robotic voice....more