This short novella is predominantly a study in contradictions. The setup is relatively unique, focusing on two aliens, a Leveler and a Summoner, whose...moreThis short novella is predominantly a study in contradictions. The setup is relatively unique, focusing on two aliens, a Leveler and a Summoner, whose races once shared a long-time symbiotic relationship, but which has been entirely destroyed by generations of cultural contamination from an invading human society. First, we are introduced to the war-like Leveler king, with his disdain for the invading Earthmen, as well as their co-opted Summoner lackeys. Then we have the Summoner, a simple goat-herder, who is presented as a member of a less aggressive race, subservient to the domineering humans. And then there’s the twist: both races are capable of a cyclical metamorphosis through three stages of anatomical development, each body-form being weaker and less emotionally aggressive than the last, but capable and driven towards breeding only in the third stage.
The setup is simple: (view spoiler)[the Leveler is in his third stage of maturation, traveling in secret to a sacred site to begin his breeding activities, which are considered to be of major strategic importance given the Levelers’ depleted numbers in the wake of their unsuccessful opposition to the human invasion. The Summoner is in his second stage of maturation, as yet incapable of breeding but still sexually functional, and physically stronger than the Leveler’s third-stage form. The Leveler is injured when his transport is destroyed, and the Summoner finds him and attempts to minister to his wounds, despite the Leveler’s arrogance and demanding nature. In order to reach an accommodation, they must overcome the barriers of the Leveler’s emotional dominance and hostility, contrasted with the Summoner’s physical dominance, sexually and culturally maimed by his association with humans. (hide spoiler)]
All in all, I found the progression of their relationship to be somewhat staccato, advancing by fits and starts, with a sudden leap forward in time before the final resolution. The time jump is filled in by narrative summary, which I found unsatisfying. In my opinion, the story would have been better served by having this period of time documented in the narrative, rather than just alluded to in passing, even if it extended the length of the story to a long novella or short novel. As it was, the final chapter seemed forced and premature, but the intriguing world-building raises my rating from three stars to four. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Well. How shall I describe the very strange impression this book made on me?
In simplest terms, the plot was essentially: Extraterrestrial Steampunk Ga...moreWell. How shall I describe the very strange impression this book made on me?
In simplest terms, the plot was essentially: Extraterrestrial Steampunk Gay Batman and Robin with a deranged, masochistic Alfred.
As for the romantic character arc, it reminded me in many ways of Ms. Lane's previous work, Truth in the Dark. The narrative plotline, of course, was worlds apart, but the romance had the same feel to it. And that might tell you more about what to expect from this story than my one-line narrative summary above.
There’s a lot more of course, but that’s the meat of it. The rest is merely sauce and spices. It was a very strange read, but fairly light and enjoyable, except for the parts which were brutally dark. (less)
A coda to the series, it adds little to the plot of the first books, only describing another semi-unrelated event in the history of Nyarlathotep's occ...moreA coda to the series, it adds little to the plot of the first books, only describing another semi-unrelated event in the history of Nyarlathotep's occupation of Earth. Relatively disappointing as an independent final chapter, given that all the action wound up conclusively in the previous book.(less)
A fascinating comic book reimagining of the apocalypse foretold in much of the (non-Dreamlands) Lovecraftian stories. Doesn't quite capture the nihili...moreA fascinating comic book reimagining of the apocalypse foretold in much of the (non-Dreamlands) Lovecraftian stories. Doesn't quite capture the nihilistic creepiness of Alan Moore's The Courtyard, but the language was less verbose, and the plot was more substantial. While the books were well-tinged with horror and despair, they still managed to sound a slight note of hope in the darkness, something of a concession to the comic book medium. Overall, I quite enjoyed it.(less)
A fascinating collection of serialized horror/fantasy comics, interesting enough that I will probably pick up book two just to see where the stories g...moreA fascinating collection of serialized horror/fantasy comics, interesting enough that I will probably pick up book two just to see where the stories go.(less)
Standard celebrity-relationship-of-convenience/friends-to-lovers setup in a rockstar setting, but exceptionally well-executed. The relationship shifts...moreStandard celebrity-relationship-of-convenience/friends-to-lovers setup in a rockstar setting, but exceptionally well-executed. The relationship shifts focus relatively slowly, with plenty of time to build characterization and establish shifting boundaries. The last quarter of the book has elements of mystery/conspiracy, however they don't really go anywhere and the book remains fairly straightforward romance. But I enjoyed the writing, and the dialogue was particularly likeable.(less)
An interesting take on time travel and its attendant difficulties, superficially admixed with themes of domestic violence, the nature of heroism, and...moreAn interesting take on time travel and its attendant difficulties, superficially admixed with themes of domestic violence, the nature of heroism, and human frailty. If it failed anywhere, it was in the limited development of the secondary characters, who were mostly sketched out in bursts of narrative summary describing their personal histories.(less)
A fascinating take of time travel and alternate universes, tied together by the life experience of a single traveler, in all his many incarnations. Th...moreA fascinating take of time travel and alternate universes, tied together by the life experience of a single traveler, in all his many incarnations. The author successfully explores the entire gamut of the typical time travel quandaries, from paradox to predestination, from existential solitude to megalomaniacal delusions, and yet the text retains its accessibility despite the complex issues it takes on. Most impressive.(less)
**spoiler alert** ***SPOILERIFIC*** An editor once told me that if your hero is too strong, then the book falls flat because there's no dramatic tensi...more**spoiler alert** ***SPOILERIFIC*** An editor once told me that if your hero is too strong, then the book falls flat because there's no dramatic tension, no possibility that he might lose in the end. By the same token, if your villain starts out too smart and powerful, such that there's no credibility to the idea that the hero will prevail, then there's really no shock when the main character loses at the end. The only question is how he is outgunned or outsmarted, and how he responds to the defeat. The mythology and world building in this novel were as rich as ever, but the storyline did not advance far enough to let me believe that it could be wrapped up by the end of this book. Therefore, it was obvious and inevitable that Bobby would lose in the end, preserving his driving motivation for the next book(s) in the series. The only question in my mind was how exactly he would be defeated, and what he would do next to try and continue the fight. I have no doubt that eventually Bobby will triumph over his enemies, but so far, he is still working too much in the dark, without any leverage on either Heaven or Hell. That leaves him tilting at windmills, and there is no victory in sight, as yet. I will continue to read the books for the fantastic mythology the author has created, and the continually expanding world: first San Judas, then Heaven, and now Hell. It's only a matter of time before Bobby gains a little ground, and there is still the Third Way afterlife to be explored. If I had to guess, I'd say the overall story arc has just passed the middle of the second act, with the midpoint revelation, and there are at least one, but more likely two books left in the series: one to establish a point of leverage in Bobby's favor and firm up his alliances, leveling the playing field, and then one more to set the endgame in motion, leading to the final confrontation between Heaven, Hell, and the Third Way. The outcome of THAT is still up in the air, maintaining the series' long term tension, but in the short term, I just didn't feel it.(less)
Okay, after the ridiculous Deus Ex Machina ending of the second book, I was prepared to be quite unimpressed with the third book. However, I had a muc...moreOkay, after the ridiculous Deus Ex Machina ending of the second book, I was prepared to be quite unimpressed with the third book. However, I had a much more positive impression of Mockingjay. It reminds me a great deal of the first book, which had greater narrative strength than book two.
The main characters are once again fish out of water, trying to fit into the antiseptic and regimented brutality of District 13, a sharp contrast to the hedonistic excesses of the Capital. But the mirror image metaphor holds true, as President Snow’s spiritual counterpart in President Coin tries to bend the Mockinjay into an impotent symbol of the rebellion, a figurehead to motivate the people, but of no real threat to District 13’s ultimate victory.
To survive, Katniss must learn to play the hidden threads of power that rule this dangerous game of revolution. This book, however, borrows from Catching Fire in that the climax is rushed, and too much of the action is simply explained after the fact to fill in the blanks left by the disjointed hopscotch of the narrative. In fact, the entire last 10% of the book has a overarching sense of emotional disconnection.
Unlike the second book, however, the dissociative mood fits well with the main character’s mental shock, as both Presidents act out their vicious endgames to finally break her will and remove her from the field of play. In the end, the narrative strategy that failed to create a satisfying ending to the second book succeeds better here, as the plot threads (including the love triangle) are tied off in a way that is at least final, though prosaic.
It was clever, engaging, and defiant, right up until the last chapter, when it turned to crap. I mean, really? The Big Revea...more**spoiler alert** SPOILER:
It was clever, engaging, and defiant, right up until the last chapter, when it turned to crap. I mean, really? The Big Reveal during the Denouement, a couple of paragraphs to crowbar the entire rebellion subplot into an infodump and set up a clumsy cliffhanger? The first book, at least, had an actual ending. The author should have called it Book Two of the Hunger Games, Part One. What a huge disappointment. I'll probably read the third book, just to see how the story ends, but this book quite soured my enjoyment of the series. 2.5 stars.(less)