I loved the hell out of the first chapter. If I was reviewing that chapter alone I'd give it an easy 5 stars, no question. If only the rest of the nov...moreI loved the hell out of the first chapter. If I was reviewing that chapter alone I'd give it an easy 5 stars, no question. If only the rest of the novel had presented itself and its themes so succinctly then I'm certain that It'd also score 5 stars, but alas 'twas not to be. Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed the story. It just wasn't as good as I expected it to be based on what I'd heard about it beforehand and how brilliant the first chapter was.
For starters, some of the writing itself was confused and at times ambiguous. A couple of times I found myself discovering mid-paragraph that the setting had changed without announcement (‘oh, we’re back in the car now? Okay’). Occasionally I would also be tripped up by the absence of quotation marks (either single or double) when a character says something to themselves; jumping unexpectedly from third-person to first-person perspective and back again was jarring.
Though the story presents a whole lot of interesting questions and ideas about empathy, identity, religion, and reality, and even tries to wade around in them, exploring them, it doesn't offer much in terms of answers. I understand that PKD was personally exploring these questions himself around the time he wrote 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?', and logically he can't provide answers that he himself does not possess, but it leaves the whole experience somewhat dissatisfying. I find myself wondering how particular leaps of logic were made (such as when Deckard identifies the first android), and the motivation behind some seemingly irrational actions. But I suppose it succeeds in instilling the reader with a similar sense of confusion and a lack of understanding that PKD must have been feeling; how ironically empathetic.
There are a number of moments during the story that I found myself particularly engaged and involved, though I can’t discuss them in any real detail for fear of spoilers. Let me just say that I thought the scenes concerning Phil Resch were amazing and that the scene with the Isidore’s spider was surprisingly unsettling.
I’d suggest ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ to the sort of reader who doesn’t mind being presented with philosophical questions that will go unanswered. I’m sure some people love receiving such food for thought and then being left to ponder it for themselves, but personally I need greater guidance than that. Also, if you’re curious about the novel that lead to the ‘Blade Runner’ film, it’s interesting to see what was used from this story and what was discarded, what was expanded and what was brushed over.(less)
Those of you who are already familiar with the Dresden Files from the first book, ‘Storm Front’, please forgive me for re-treading old ground; I read...moreThose of you who are already familiar with the Dresden Files from the first book, ‘Storm Front’, please forgive me for re-treading old ground; I read ‘Storm Front’ before I had a GoodReads account and as such I don’t have a review for it.
Maintaining the standard established by the first of the Dresden Files books, this second installment, ‘Fool Moon’, is stupidly easy to read, pulpy as all get-out, and just plan goddamn fun! The narrative flows so quickly, and is so action-packed that one could easily consume the whole thing in a single sitting had one the time and inclination to do so – like an action movie.
The first-person narration allows for some pretty humorous moments of self-awareness, such as when Harry remarks on his own foolishness (hindsight for him, current events for the reader), or when the way Harry feels at that particular moment in the narrative obviously influences and colors the way he tells the story. Of particular note for the latter is when he is under the effects of a pick-me-up potion and becomes irrationally confident and headstrong - arrogant, even. On the flip-side to these benefits, there is a glaring deficit that I must mention. I know that it's in-character for Harry to make cheap and cheesy jokes, and I appreciate a good pun as much as the next guy (more than, even), but I found the inclusion of the PAINFULLY bad werewolf puns that litter the text absolutely cringeworthy. Realistically it's not a big complaint by any means, but it has stuck with me enough to make it definitely worth mentioning.
While this installment didn't do much to answer the big questions left at the end of the first novel, it did leave us with a few more which it tied in with those we already had to suggest at a bigger, broader mystery that will undoubtedly be explored in later books.
Even despite my reluctance to start this book because of my thorough disinterest in werewolves, this was a really enjoyable read once I got going. It's also worth noting for other potential readers who are similarly disinterested in werewolves that those presented within are NOT what you're expecting. Butcher has managed to mix things up and keep it fresh despite using a stale old cliché monster, and there's certainly something to be said for that.(less)
When I read 'City of Saints and Madmen' I'd formed a mental mosaic of the city of Ambergris - its history, its inhabitants, its aesthetic. It was so f...moreWhen I read 'City of Saints and Madmen' I'd formed a mental mosaic of the city of Ambergris - its history, its inhabitants, its aesthetic. It was so fantastic and ethereal and weird that every insight left me slack jawed and awed.
When I read 'Shriek: An Afterword' I was shocked at the level of (comparative) normalcy it imposed upon the city. It became too *real* for me, too *regular*. It was I felt like it had robbed me of some of the wonder with which the city had instilled me.
When I read 'Finch', I was presented with an Ambergris so extremely unlike that which I has encountered in the earlier books that it's almost difficult to consolidate. It brought back the strangeness I'd found in 'City' while leaving the functional normalcy of 'Shriek'. And I loved it. It was the perfect balance.
The story is set in a post-Rising Ambergis. Now an occupying force, the grey caps have flooded a large portion of the city (and what's left had already been war-worn during the War of the Houses), they've got most of the city's inhabitants imprisoned in work camps toiling away on a pair of ominous towers the purpose of which no one knows, and those left relatively "free" are policed by the fungal-enhanced human agents of the grey caps known as Partials. This is the world in which Finch lives and works.
Finch is a detective. "Employed" by the grey caps to investigate crimes throughout Ambergris, he is more or less considered a traitor by the humans. When he is tasked with solving a double murder involving a grey cap and an unidentified human, things start to get very bad for Finch very quickly. Because 'Finch' is basically a mystery story, I won't go into any greater detail than that.
The prose took a little bit of getting used to. Composed of short, curt, pointed sentences interposed with bursts of measured introspection on the part of Finch, it seems to adhere to conventions of noir fiction which I'd not been exposed to before. I became endeared to the style before long, and view it very favorably in retrospect; it supports and deepens the strength of the mood and tone of the novel wonderfully.
It is said that one could read 'Finch' without first having read the other books in the Ambergris cycle. I suppose this is true - it is definitely strong enough a story to stand by itself - but I feel that having read the other books could be the difference between just *enjoying* 'Finch', and really appreciating it. It ties together threads that were lingering from the earlier books and makes startling revelations about the history of, and prior events within, Ambergris - the impact of which would obviously be greatly weakened had the reader not been pondering these already.(less)
The ENTIRE time I was reading this, I was waiting for something to happen, but alas 'twas not to be. I went into this expecting a trilogy of detective...moreThe ENTIRE time I was reading this, I was waiting for something to happen, but alas 'twas not to be. I went into this expecting a trilogy of detective stories that would explore the concept of identity, but what I got was a trilogy of tales that explore the concept of identity without any real plot.
The way the (unreliable?) narrators slip from normalcy at the behest of nothing more than the inherent existential curiousness of their respective situations reminded me of the Johnny Truant narrative from 'House of Leaves', except that in this case it felt awkward, forced, under-developed, and was generally poorly executed.
What I find most disappointing is that all the elements that would have been necessary for 'The New York Trilogy' to be truly awesome were present, yet somehow failed. I'm totally into detective stories, conceptual/existential horror, depictions of the descent into madness, and I love post-modern stuff like metafictionalism, yet still I was thoroughly underwhelmed and even bored by the stories. They had such promise, such potential, and that's what sucks the most.
I don't plan on trying any of Auster's other works after this.(less)
'The City & The City' (TC&TC) presents a world that is an absolutely fascinating thought exercise explored by the winding of the unfortunately...more'The City & The City' (TC&TC) presents a world that is an absolutely fascinating thought exercise explored by the winding of the unfortunately contrived narrative and its serviceable protagonist.
I'm used to Mieville's novels taking an unusually long time to click over from world building to action, and I'm familiar with the implicit plodding progression of a police procedural, but even when the shit hit the fan in TC&TC I didn't really feel that shifting of gears.
I enjoyed TC&TC, don't get me wrong. But unlike, say, Perdido Street Station, which I enjoyed as much for its unique setting as I did its enthralling story, I was only really hooked by the world of TC&TC, not the goings on therein.(less)
As good sci-fi should, 'Quarantine' takes an existing area of scientific study, asks the reader to accept a key concession, and turns the dial up to 1...moreAs good sci-fi should, 'Quarantine' takes an existing area of scientific study, asks the reader to accept a key concession, and turns the dial up to 11. In this instance, the area of study is the observer effect in quantum physics and the concession is that the collapsing of a quantum wave function is a process that takes place in the brain of the observer. From there it explores all kinda of nuanced philosophical implications, which I won't detail for fear of spoiling the fun.
All this takes place within the framing device of a tech-noir detective story and an exciting adventure narrative. The characters are quite multifaceted and interesting - not mere conduits for the exploration of a hypothesis, but key players in an engaging story of corporate espionage and more.
I can imagine that those who like their sci-fi particularly soft might not dig the crunch of 'Quarantine' quite so much, but I'm confident that even they should be able to enjoy the story otherwise.
HOLY CRAP was this better than expected. Pulp noir sci-fi the SHIT! Take Raymond Chandler, marinate him in the essence of science-fiction for a few da...moreHOLY CRAP was this better than expected. Pulp noir sci-fi the SHIT! Take Raymond Chandler, marinate him in the essence of science-fiction for a few days, and fire up the ridiculous-metaphore-machine!(less)
Dammit, Auster. I'm always left more confused at the end of your stories than at any point during them. Yet somehow the ending of 'Travels in the Scri...moreDammit, Auster. I'm always left more confused at the end of your stories than at any point during them. Yet somehow the ending of 'Travels in the Scriptorium' blindsided me with a surprising emotional impact. I don't even understand why, but I was all but brought to tears.(less)