When I read the first one I didn't realize it was going to be a series, but all that world building really paid off - this was fantastic! There are so...moreWhen I read the first one I didn't realize it was going to be a series, but all that world building really paid off - this was fantastic! There are some very thought provoking threads about evolution and our place in it, which I think is what I enjoyed most about the book. It also explores further the wackier "what ifs" surrounding Pratchett's much loved many worlds theory - how the human race adapts to the fact over the first 20 years and how other species have evolved with it. But many of the issues raised directly relate to issues today and in human history, in particular slavery, the treatment of different cultures and the West's tendency to control and impose its values wherever it treads. Depending on where they take the mysterious Black Corporation story arc, it could become even more political.
Character-wise, I'm pretty sure I spotted bits of Vimes in Monica, much of the Nac-mac-Feegle in the elves, some Tiffany in Roberta, and Nanny Ogg in Sister Agnes, among others. I'm not entirely sold on hard SF yet and found Pratchett's personable warmth helped this series slide down more easily, but now I'm with it I'm pretty stoked to read some Stephen Baxter.
Lobsang is awesome, like something straight out of Douglas Adams.(less)
Hard hitting YA dystopia, high octane and very difficult to put down. It left me desperate to read something serene to help me calm down. The best thi...moreHard hitting YA dystopia, high octane and very difficult to put down. It left me desperate to read something serene to help me calm down. The best thing about it is that it's loosely based on Watership Down.(less)
A psychedelic romp to find 'The Creator'. Short but packed with big ideas. Stylistically quite challenging for reading in 30 min chunks on the train,...moreA psychedelic romp to find 'The Creator'. Short but packed with big ideas. Stylistically quite challenging for reading in 30 min chunks on the train, like Strata: dialogue-heavy and dense with references to alien cultures and futuristic technologies.(less)
Once upon a time before the discworld he wrote niche, edgy sci-fi parodies which in this case I can't fully appreciate not having read the original Ri...moreOnce upon a time before the discworld he wrote niche, edgy sci-fi parodies which in this case I can't fully appreciate not having read the original Ringworld saga. The narrative is dense with casual references to futuristic technologies and alien cultures, making it feel like a sci-fi Ulysses after his later works. It feels young and ambitious, and pitched higher with an abundance of cosmic ideas explored but with less of a human element - pure sci-fi. I think his writing got better, but it's enjoyable and refreshingly different.(less)
I think I've just spent too much time inside the heads of more polished authors such as Stieg Larsson and George R.R. Martin since reading the first i...moreI think I've just spent too much time inside the heads of more polished authors such as Stieg Larsson and George R.R. Martin since reading the first instalment to enjoy this.
If I had to guess, I'd say the third book will be called 'Relentless' - because this sums up the pace. While compelling, it's so OTT that I didn't feel I had the time and space to care about the characters much.(less)
This was a fast paced, gripping read. It takes a conscious effort not to get your hopes up too high when the marketing machine is behind something to...moreThis was a fast paced, gripping read. It takes a conscious effort not to get your hopes up too high when the marketing machine is behind something to this extent, and while it isn't too original, it's a good read.
Synopsis (spoilerish): Katrice Everprior is a headstrong yet dutiful daughter born into the district of Hufflepuff, in post-apocalyptic Chicagwarts.
When her time comes to be sorted at the tender age of 16, she chooses the district of Gryffindor, though the sorting hat spends a long time deciding and suggests she might be great in Slytherin. Katrice is warned never to reveal the sorting hat's indecision (her 'divergence') as this could lead to the breakdown of the entire district system and a fate worse than stereotypes. And the volturi might come after her for her special magic-repellant brainpowers.
In order to gain acceptance into their chosen houses, each young adult must participate in the initiation games. If they fail, they are cast out of all districts as a squib.
In the arena, the initiates are assigned two instructors, Gale4 and EricSeverus666, whose attitudes to their profession differ only in the desire to keep their wards in one piece before throwing the losers to the squibs.
Gale4 takes a special shine to Katrice. When Peter Malfoy tears her arm off and beats her with the soggy end in the first round, 'Combat', he leaves the room out of respect. Gale4 makes Katrice feel kinda funny, like climbing the rope in gym class.
Katrice makes a fine comeback by hexing Molly Bulstrode to a pulp, but is still daunted by the career-initiates such as Cedric-Edward, whose parents have been buying them pet sharks and glueing their toys to the train line in training for the games since early childhood.
During the night after Katrice has aced the final round, she wakes to find all her housemates sleepwalking in unison. She establishes they have all been turned into inferi by Lord Jeanniemort of Slytherin, in order to wage war on the Hufflepuffs.
The magic doesn't work on Katrice owing to her divergence, but following the sleepwalkers she manages to infiltrate the attack with her family in a death-defying feat of Jack Bauer-esqe perserverence, firing blind, bleeding from a bullet wound, and losing most of the people she cares about in the process.
The action culminates in an emotive scene reminiscent of The Naked Gun finale, where Frank Drebin uses the power of leurve to talk Jane out of her hypnosis-induced assassination: Katrice finds Gale4 in the inferi control room, under the imperius curse, and breaks through the magic. They stop their inferi-rised housemates in the nick of time and escape with the control unit. TBC...(less)
"These are the end times. It rained cheese last night. The black squirrel has been seen as far afield as Luton."
I love Warren Ellis. He is one of the...more"These are the end times. It rained cheese last night. The black squirrel has been seen as far afield as Luton."
I love Warren Ellis. He is one of the few online presences I have stuck with right through the 10 or so years since discovering the intarwubs. He relieves my pent up frustration with the ludicrous, cruel and hypocritical world we live in with his colourful observations and ...outbursts. Reading him via his website, and now his twitter (with his friendly morning greetings) is like a deeply vicarious and satisfying rant. He never disappoints. Considering this it has taken me a long time to get around to one of his actual books, but better late than never - this was an intensely Warren-like experience and I savoured every drop.(less)