What happens to a Lawful Neutral Paladin in a Lawful Evil society when he discovers that his life has been an unlawful lie? How does he slowly transitWhat happens to a Lawful Neutral Paladin in a Lawful Evil society when he discovers that his life has been an unlawful lie? How does he slowly transition to Lawful Good?
That's pretty much how I'd describe this book. Which sounds great, until you actually read it. The main character is really, really boring - as are most of the characters - and his transition is *so* predictable that you just want it to be over faster. But cliches are okay if they help some other part of the book along. Is there a big, fascinating world? Colorful characters? An interesting magic system? Clever commentary on society? Fantastic plot?
Nope, nope, nope, nope. The worst part is that there was so much *opportunity* for world-building that is only lazily built upon. The setting is clearly South Asian-ish: everyone has an Indian name, the 'past world' has 'many-armed gods', etc. Except they eat rice balls because I guess that happens somewhere in Asia? And other than that you get a few references to bland European Middle Ages stuff - paladin order, some magic in a mountain somewhere, evil wizards, that sort of thing.
And the characters are utterly forgettable. Who cares about the boring internal struggles of the Paladin? He's utterly overpowered, basically an ubermensch running around chopping down peasants and making everyone looking like children.
The plot was okay. It dragged a bit at the beginning but picked up steam about halfway through, even though characters were suddenly dropped after being somewhat developed....more
Off To Be The Wizard is so full of plot holes and inconsistencies it is unbelievable. That would be more okay if the author didn't spend so much timeOff To Be The Wizard is so full of plot holes and inconsistencies it is unbelievable. That would be more okay if the author didn't spend so much time on the world building. In any case, it is mildly amusing and has a kind of interesting world so it's not all bad....more
A quick, surprisingly entertaining read. A straightforward mystery in a near-future where people inhabit robot bodies. You've got your standard corporA quick, surprisingly entertaining read. A straightforward mystery in a near-future where people inhabit robot bodies. You've got your standard corporate espionage, the double-crosses, the hardass older cop: all standard devices done in a clever way....more
This book is roughly divided into two parts: the semi-autobiographical story of Jonathan Lethem, growing up white in an African-American part of 1970sThis book is roughly divided into two parts: the semi-autobiographical story of Jonathan Lethem, growing up white in an African-American part of 1970s Brooklyn, and the story of the adult dealing with his childhood.
Whereas most people seem to have enjoyed the first half the most, I found that it came off as just another generic Brooklyn coming-of-age story that's been done to death. As opposed to others, it was the second half that shone. The second half where the adult is weighed down by his childhood, weighed down by history as is everyone around him. It is about history and change and the past in a manner that I have rarely seen.
But still - I was too bored by the beginning of the book to really make me think this book is great....more
Hook, the Tinder-esque dating app with a Zuckerberg-esque CEO is set to have their IPO and they have picked stud Todd and his merry band of bankers toHook, the Tinder-esque dating app with a Zuckerberg-esque CEO is set to have their IPO and they have picked stud Todd and his merry band of bankers to lead it. The CEO has decided that bankers are useless, though, and only lets four tiny souls work on the deal instead of the gigantic team one would normally require. That, uh, makes sense? I guess? And who will save this deal from going down like the titanic? Will it be Todd, playboy with the superhero ability to cause every female character in his scene to blush two, maybe even three times per page? Will it be Neha, nerdy Indian girl? How about Tara, the only character with any remote character growth? No, it will be the blue blood who only cares about sleeping with women named Beau (yes, his name is actually Beau)?
Really, you won't care because every character is a cutout of some stereotype and less interesting than dry cement. Every man thinks of nothing but preening, sleeping with women, and putting down other men. Every woman thinks of nothing but who she might marry before she turns 30 and how often to blush in front of said men. But they are Wall Street bankers and High Tech Silicon Valley management types so if you get off on schadenfreude and raging about these terrible people, then maybe you will like them?
Oh, and the plot makes no sense. Whatsoever. Even the twist at the end doesn't really make any sense. No detail should be turned because you will regret thinking about how little sense anything makes. And the author really tries to cover a lot: sample topics include Wall Street, Silicon Valley, hookup culture, college rape, Syria, the news media, millenial entitlement, and a few others. Maybe the author could have picked one or two or thee or even four of these and focused on them?
I really want to give this a 1.5 star rating, and was teetering on the edge of pushing it down to 1 for the sub-YA writing, but hey, it is a quick read and the plot pushes along at a brisk pace. The viewpoint shifts from character to character giving it a *slight* bit of complexity and allows lingering on the few characters that the author deems worthy of minimal (if predictable) growth....more
"Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismay'd? Not tho' the soldier knew Someone had blunder'd - Charge of the Light Brigade
Though the poem is"Forward, the Light Brigade!" Was there a man dismay'd? Not tho' the soldier knew Someone had blunder'd - Charge of the Light Brigade
Though the poem is about a different battle, it captures what the common soldier must have been feeling. In a real battle, the number of mistakes, the amount of petty slaughter, is appalling.
Waterloo is a book that manages to marry the fiction-like ability to captivate you through a surging plot with a non-fiction history book's reliance on fact and primary sources. On the other hand, I started off knowing little about Waterloo and I'm not sure how much more I know now.
It can be a bit hard to keep track of what is going on once the battle starts - mostly killing, mistakes, more killing. But you do manage to get a very visceral sense of what was going through people's heads, what it was really like....more
The Golem and the Jinni is like a moist chocolate cake. Take that as you will.
Helene Wecker has managed to combine myths from disparate cultures intoThe Golem and the Jinni is like a moist chocolate cake. Take that as you will.
Helene Wecker has managed to combine myths from disparate cultures into the swirl of immigrants of turn-of-the-20th-century New York. Even more importantly, she has used this to say something interesting about what it means to be a man and a woman, and an immigrant far from home.
I have no idea if it was intentional or not, but the myths are presented in a heavily gendered fashion: the Golem is fashioned to be everything a good wife should be. Kind, polite, chaste, always thinking of others. The Jinni is your Man: he does what he wants when he wants because he is Free and Independent and damn the consequences. It uses this to showcase the toll of the uncompensated emotional labor enacted upon women and the social emptiness that is left upon men.
And given that these two beings are presented in gendered form - a man and a woman - we might typically expect the coy but inevitable pairing of the two. And yet you get the feeling that the attraction is one of friendship borne out of a mutual understanding. These two beings are alone among strangers and find one another as equals, not as love interests. How fantastic - and yet sadly unexpected - that a man and a woman are presented as friends??
The book has its faults: the dialogue is a bit stilted and the writing not beautiful (though certainly not at all bad). The book drags whenever the Palace of Glass backstory is being told. The book would have been much better without this fairly needless backstory.
This book deserves a 4.5/5 stars and is definitely some of the best fantasy to have been recently written....more
The stories that people tell about us are not under our control. They are the subject of chance, of grudges and power, and of sheer narratability. EveThe stories that people tell about us are not under our control. They are the subject of chance, of grudges and power, and of sheer narratability. Everland takes a look at two expeditions to the same piece of Antarctica a hundred years apart. In their fictionalized universe, the present-day scientists are visiting the site where three explorers had been stranded, their story immortalized by a world-famous movie.
As the present-day crew proceeds to explore this tiny island, the book flips back and forth between the events of the past and the events of the present. It shows hard decisions, and everyone has their own story of what is happening right in front of their eyes, filtered by their own desires and ambitions. And, ultimately, how the story that the rest of the world hears is determined by these same desires and ambitions. The local becomes global.
The characters have a tendency to be a bit flat; and the short, clipped passages that relate each generation's story are not long enough to allow much depth; but these same short stories give the novel a brisk readability that makes you desire to read more, more....more
You've got to hand it to NYRB: they knew what they were doing by noting that "Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece". It got me and, juYou've got to hand it to NYRB: they knew what they were doing by noting that "Borges declared The Invention of Morel a masterpiece". It got me and, judging from the other reviews I see on Goodreads, it got a lot of other people, too. And that's a shame, because it will get your hopes up and place it in a context that it shouldn't belong.
Because let's be clear: this is very much a book of its time, stylistically similar to the contemporary horror being written (better, in my opinion) by people like HP Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith with touches of the much-earlier HG Wells and (much, much earlier) Poe. Unfortunately, it shares flaws with Wells, as well.
Casares presents us with the diary of a man desperately hiding from the authorities on a remote island who is suddenly presented with visitors. Though he hides, he sees a woman who visits the island cliffs and is compelled to - lets not put too fine a point on it - start stalking her. Although the exact nature of these visitors is supposed to be a mystery that takes many, many pages to resolve, a contemporary reader should roughly pick up on what is happening quite quick. This makes the character's attempt to solve the mystery drag. This could be ascribed to the paranoid tendencies of the character but, really, that does not help with the plotting.
The end is a missed opportunity: what could have been a philosophically interesting comment on life, time, and the choices we make is left unfulfilled.
That said, pieces of this are present; the book is a quick read, and enjoyably written. It just feels like it could have been - and, from the back blurb, should have been - so much more. (It also goes to show how much being Borges' friend will do for your historical legacy.)...more
I picked up One Year Affair because it was $2.50 and that's about the right price. One Year Affair is a slightly sexist and incredibly of-its-era collI picked up One Year Affair because it was $2.50 and that's about the right price. One Year Affair is a slightly sexist and incredibly of-its-era collection of four-panel comics describing an adult love affair from conception to separation. It follows a bumbling man who meets a series of women with huge, perky breasts, one of whom he begins a love affair with. It is a very adult affair with a fair degree of complexity. In a different, longer form this had the potential to be a fairly deep look at a realistic relationship. Unfortunately, the short form really removes the ability to apply much nuance to each event (and the corny jokes that the author(s) sometimes feel compelled to add at the end of each four-panels detracts rather than adds levity)....more
This book is about math, about chess, about cryptography, about a lonely soul. Unfortunately, this book knows very little about math, about chess, orThis book is about math, about chess, about cryptography, about a lonely soul. Unfortunately, this book knows very little about math, about chess, or about cryptography. It is painfully obvious to an informed reader when Mai Jia is just - needlessly - making things up, when he is ill-informed about the subject matter.
This might not matter if the book offered psychological insights into the lonely soul. But it doesn't. It merely offers a slightly off-beat character who goes from one task to the next, repeatedly telling us "THIS GUY IS REALLY, REALLY SMART!" occasionally offering up non-sensical (in the context of the story) plot points.
It is unclear how much of this is due to the translation, and how much to the original author; but this version of the book is the one that I read. Quite a disappointment....more