I started reading Germline about 12.30 this afternoon, intending to read for a little and have a nap. Now it’...moreReview originally published on BookThing!
I started reading Germline about 12.30 this afternoon, intending to read for a little and have a nap. Now it’s just gone 5pm and I may be a little bleary eyed after no sleep but I just finished the book and then had to take a little time to reflect on it before I wrote the review.
Germline is not an easy read, it has all too realistic scenes of death, insanity and desperation in war, the main character is about the most self-indulgent mess of an anti-hero you could find and even though it’s set in the future, the war is ultimately about who has the most strength to claim what dwindling mineral resources are left, something I can envision all too clearly in our reality.
Having said all that, the book was absolutely amazing. The clarity of writing and scene descriptions were brilliant and I was able to clearly envision what was going on, even if I didn’t want to. I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next, no matter the outcome and there were more than a few times when I had to take a brief break, just to absorb or pull back from what I’d just read.
I thought the technology T. C. McCarthy created was superb, fit the setting well and it impressed me how easy it was to understand without being led into lengthy jargon on how and why. From the weaponry, to the armour, even the genetic soldiers all provided everything I needed for a well rounded science fiction novel.
As the book was written in first person perspective, I think it provided a unique look at what was going on in Oscar Wendell’s head. Starting as a drug-addicted and failing journalist, he had one last chance of redeeming himself with his employers by securing the chance to write an article from the frontlines of the subterrene war in Kazakhstan. Seeing the war happen from his civilian perspective gave greater impact to what it was really like, the conditions they endure and the edge of sanity they have to dance to get through another night. The choices he made throughout were both insane yet believable.
I really wanted to hate him. At first it felt like there was nothing redeeming about him whatsoever, but McCarthy wrote him so cleverly that as he woke up to the reality around him and grew up without wanting to, he sneaked into my mind and a little into my heart.
There was quite a large cast of supporting characters, and a few of the individuals that Oscar meets had quite a major impact on me. The sheer amount of emotion that the author managed to convey along with these characters, some of them only for a short time was astounding and a testament to a brilliant and empathic writing style. I have to mention the Brit and the Kid. I loved both their characters and the fact you never learned their names.
The ending was actually a real surprise for me, I honestly didn’t expect it and I can only give huge props to T. C. McCarthy for making me believe there could be only one outcome for Oscar.
My only negative is that the title of the book and the consequent definition on the back cover aren’t actually used in the book that I recall, and perhaps it wasn’t needed as you now knew what it meant. Due to the definition though, I was expecting something a little different but I was in no way disappointed with what I got.
The pace of the book was fast and unrelenting, leading to me not being able to put it down unless I had to. The plot was both original and interesting and actually very hard to describe so all I can say is read Germline. Then get back to me ;)
A gripping close up of a futuristic war in all it’s gritty, brutal, dark and horrific glory.(less)
Once I finished Exogene, and then had time to think about it, I spent an hour ranting at my husband about the...more Review originally published at BookThing!
Once I finished Exogene, and then had time to think about it, I spent an hour ranting at my husband about the unjust and detestable treatment of the Germline warriors. I wanted to know how the military or government could treat human beings like machines, even ones that have been genetically engineered. I wanted him to tell me what possible justification there could be for the abuse, the deplorable behaviour, and how they couldn’t see what I could see; that the Germline warriors were real human beings, with real emotions. But this wasn’t on the news. This wasn’t in the tabloids or broadsheets. It’s fiction presented with such brilliant character insight, such incredible realism that I felt truly angry at the injustice it represented.
It’s rare a book that causes such a visceral response in me, but with Exogene, T.C. McCarthy gets it just right. The story is stark, harrowing and grim but brilliant in its execution. He doesn’t waste words or go into lengthy descriptions, but still says everything he needs to with compact, emotional sentences. He gets the pace spot on, both time and huge distances being covered in a few pages, and yet you feel as if you have lived every one of those steps yourself.
The story is told through the eyes of Catherine, a first generation Germline soldier and being in her head was both tragic and fascinating. There are so many elements to her character, experiencing her indoctrination, watching her sisters embrace their faith or go insane, the decisions she makes rather than just following orders, her only understanding of the world is the one that her creator’s have given to her. As she travels and discovers her own truths, my heart ached for her more and more. Every loss, her constant weariness and even her madness resonated with me. McCarthy has written an utterly believable and realistic female character. Her determination to keep going, to overcome each obstacle and to choose her own path make her a character to be remembered.
Like Germline, I read Exogene in a single day, unable to stop until I had turned the very last page. Then I had to think about it for a while, let the experience wash over me and sort out how I actually felt and how much I had been affected. The story is told in a mixture of present tense, flashbacks and hallucinations and while that might sound confusing, it does work well.
There weren’t as many background characters in this book but we get numerous glimpses of Catherine’s ‘sisters’, both first and second generation. Megan was especially interesting and it was a shock how, almost casually, things changed for her. Margaret was a more tragic figure, different, but just as engaging, I hope we will see her again. As with the first book, the ending of Exogene did surprise me, but for different reasons. The letter at the end caused a huge emotional response in me and I was left a bit speechless.
Exogene is a heartbreaking, brutal look at near-future warfare that is so far outside my comfort zone it may as well be another dimension. Thankfully, McCarthy manages to ground the story with realistic characters, and delivers a book which challenges and entertains in equal measure.
I truly cannot wait for the third book in this series, to see where T.C. McCarthy will be taking us next.(less)
Samantha Ryan is a Melbourne State cop that has no memory of her childhood or her parents, the only thing she has is a child’s drawing of a woman with...moreSamantha Ryan is a Melbourne State cop that has no memory of her childhood or her parents, the only thing she has is a child’s drawing of a woman with ‘Mummy’ written underneath. Things start falling apart when her partner Jack, tries to kill her and weird things start happening around her… and to her. When Gabriel Stern, a shapechanger of the Special Investigations Unit gets involved, she realises there is more going on than a cop gone rogue and she is right in the middle of it.
I really like Keri Arthur’s work in general, it’s exciting, easy to read and she is very good at creating characters you love and care about. But after reading and being a bit disappointed with Deadly Desire, I picked this up fully expecting to feel the same way. It’s the first book in a new series and I have to say it was really good. Maybe the freshness of all new characters and settings helped but everything felt just right. The plot was pretty good, if a little twisty at times but the pace of answers being revealed was just right and kept you reading, trying to guess what was going on. I loved the main characters, Samantha being the one who stands out the most. Definately not a heroine who gets dropped in the deep end and flounders, waiting for the guy to come and save her. She can hold her own and I think that worked really well with the character of Gabriel who is alternately confused then impressed by her. The end of the book felt very unfinished so I really hope there is a second book in the works or I will be left forever wondering.
The Ghostwalkers are an elite group of physically and psychically enhanced soldiers, so secret most people do not know of their existence. Those who do seem to want to destroy them or experiment on them! In a compound home to some of the most deadly Ghostwalkers and their families, Sam Johnson welcomes Azami Yoshie and her brothers – the owners of the most sophisticated satellite technology company anywhere in the world. There is an instant connection between Sam and Azami, but her very presence can threaten the safety of the Ghostwalkers and their families. Can Sam trust what his heart is telling him or should he go with the uneasiness in his gut?
I have been eagerly awaiting this book since I finished reading the previous ones last year and I was not disappointed, I think this is the best one yet. It was great to be plunged back into the world of the Ghostwalkers and even better this book focused on the compound where the original Ghostwalkers and their families live.
Sam is portrayed very differently to how previous alpha males in this series have been. He is not as controlling or demanding towards his woman which makes a nice change. He is no pushover however, more resigned to the fact she is a fighter and he will never change that. It could also be something to do with the fact that when they are alone, Azami is dedicated to waiting on her man, as her upbringing and culture taught her. I did notice a softening in attitude of the other males with their partners – clearly they have finally accepted the women are always right!
I really liked Azami, a silent assassin but can kick butt with the best of them – including Sam. I found it intriguing the number of places she had weapons, even what she used as a weapon! It was also interesting seeing the two sides to her – the aggressive warrior/assassin in public and a woman determined to wait on her man in private.
The majority of the book takes place within the Ghostwalker compound but there is a foray into enemy territory towards the end of the book and a major fire-fight near the beginning. If you are a big fan of the action scenes you may feel the end chapters were a bit of an afterthought, as if the author thought ‘oops I had better send them off somewhere to fight’. I do feel however, there is a good mix of action, emotion and of course sex!
I really enjoyed having the story brought back round to include the original Ghostwalkers and it was interesting seeing the powers their children are developing, I look forward to seeing this aspect of the story developed in future books.
Of course Whitney seems to be getting more evil and unhinged. We find out more of the atrocities he committed on young girls in the name of science and we start to get a clearer picture of how high his influence actually goes.
As with the previous books I would not recommend reading this out of order, or not until you have read the first three or four books at least. With each book we discover more about Whitney and while, as long as you have the basics you could read this, you will definitely feel you are missing out chunks of information.
If you have enjoyed the previous Ghostwalker books you should love this, I know I did.(less)
Review originally published at BookThing! (Reviewed by Tony Evans)
Over the last few days I picked up and put down two or three books from Grete’s insa...more Review originally published at BookThing! (Reviewed by Tony Evans)
Over the last few days I picked up and put down two or three books from Grete’s insane to-read pile, reading the first 10 or 15 pages, trying to find something to peak my interest. I tried a little bit of sci-fi, a little bit of fantasy and even some survival horror. However, it took only six pages of Rivers of London to know that I was hooked and that this was the lucky winner in the ‘what will Tony read next’ competition.
Ben’s writing is engaging, clear and easy to read. His characters are rich from the outset and get more complex as the story goes on, and his take on London Urban Fantasy (should be a sub-genre in its own right) is both unique and compelling.
The book is populated by solid, realistic British coppers, and if Ben hasn’t worked for the police it would seem he certainly has someone on the inside (or, he’s good at research, but that didn’t sound as exciting). The police procedure elements of the story were interesting and provide a good backdrop to the drama. They ground the tale in a believable reality, despite the very rapid introduction of ghosts, wizards and other mythical beings.
Our main protagonist, Constable Peter Grant, discovers very early on that he can see ghosts and sense magic, which is just about all that saves him from a life stuck pushing paper around in the worst part of the police force. He, his friend and fellow copper Lesley May and England’s Last Wizard, Inspector Nightingale, embark on a dangerous murder investigation where the felon is clearly not playing by the same rules.
Although the introduction of magic and ghosts happens quickly, Ben doesn’t dwell on people accepting or disbelieving it all. Instead, we get a stoic acceptance that this kind of thing goes on, and if it goes on, it has to be handled, and if it’s going to be handled, then the Constabulary should be the people to handle it.
The pace is solid, and builds nicely towards the end. There are really two stories going on here, the crime that Peter and Nightingale investigate, but also, the topic the book title alludes to. The involvement of modern day living representations of the rivers of London is unique and one of the things that sets this book apart from what could have been a pastiche of Felix Castor or Harry Dresden.
Throughout the tale we are given hints of a dark past for magic and an agreement, and hence room to grow the back story. We also get clear hints that Inspector Nightingale is more than he appears to be. We barely scratch the surface of the mystery of the Folly and its even more mysterious maid, Molly.
Added to all of this, Ben Aaronovitch clearly doesn’t shirk away from putting his major characters at risk, and I’ll say no more than that so as not to spoil anything.
I described this book on twitter as “like blancmange with a severed finger in it – light and fluffy but filled with gore“. The scenes are vivid, the magic is believable, the characters are engaging, rich and well thought out, and there are some really clever scenes. Rivers of London is a superb example of what urban fantasy is all about. You will not be disappointed.(less)
I was a bit disappointed with Summer of Love which is unusual for me and a Katie Fforde novel since I usually ADORE them. It’s still a funny and sweet...moreI was a bit disappointed with Summer of Love which is unusual for me and a Katie Fforde novel since I usually ADORE them. It’s still a funny and sweet story but I felt it lacked Fforde’s usual sparkle. It’s by no means a bad book, I still read it in a day and would read it again, but it is not one of her best.
One of the things I find outstanding in her writing are the characterisations; they are loveable, believable and sometimes larger than life. In Summer of Love this is still the case but some of the reactions and interactions just missed the mark and I found some conversations a little confusing.
The plot itself while simple and sweet felt very close to a few other books I’ve read in the past which is perhaps why it didn’t feel quite right to me. ‘Girl meets boy, has only one day before he has to leave the country, mad romp ensues and has unexpected consequences. Forward five years to see where Girl is at now and ends up meeting Boy again, confused feelings, arguments then Happy Ending’. Usually that’s the kind of story I love, but it just seemed to lack the impact her books usually bring.
I did like the main characters however, Sian and Rory were funny and a great mum and son team. Fiona was just loveable and I think everyone would want her as a friend! James was a nice surprise and became much more than he first appeared. Gus had moments when he irritated me but on the whole he was just what Sian needed.
The character I didn’t like at all was Richard, he just didn’t really seem to have any impact whatsoever, except to give Sian a different option, and not really a very good one at that.
There were also a few typos which jerked me out of the story, and again this is very unusual for a Fforde book. If I had to describe how the book felt, I would simply say it felt rushed.
Definitely worth reading since it is a sweet story but not one of her best, I’m sad to say.
This book is utterly amazing, I can’t stress that enough. It hits every single sci-fi button I have; space opera, crime, horror, and just enough of a...moreThis book is utterly amazing, I can’t stress that enough. It hits every single sci-fi button I have; space opera, crime, horror, and just enough of a touch of romance to give it an emotional punch. It has zombies, heroic sacrifice, interplanetary war, and some truly great action.
On paper that might seem like a book by the numbers but it really isn’t. The writing is clever but eminently readable and the story just blew me away. With such a heady mix of so many elements the plot could have been really confusing, yet I had no trouble following it.
The characters are believable, realistic and they quickly get into your mind, even those that are only present for a short time. I loved Captain Jim Holden and his somewhat naive and altruistic view of life. He’s written so well that the odd mix of both admirable and foolhardy decision making is believable. The authors have given us a hero that acts like one despite the consequences. The rest of the survivors were also well realised and added a lot to the depth and flavour of the story. As an aside I did laugh when Naomi figuratively had to smack Jim into sense, one of a number of comic moments that help break up the considerable tension.
Detective Miller is a bit of an enigma. A very strong character but obviously fundamentally damaged, and the complete opposite of Jim. He sees things from a much more realistic perspective and can look at the bigger picture. I thought the debates with Holden about his decisions, and them both being at opposite ends of the spectrum were very well written and thought out. Neither were right or wrong but I found my own feelings on the matter coloured how I looked at it. Miller’s involvement was excellent yet sad and the emotional writing of this character had me in tears towards the end of the book.
I thought the future technology side was well crafted and believable, taking into account physics and the forces at play when ships are moving. I felt it all was very smooth, understandable and very creative.
The plot and pace are very much tied together as each chapter unfolds and both increase in intensity nicely. I’ve seen some people say the ending employs deus ex machina, however I totally disagree because the groundwork had been building right from the start. To me it was just another example of the clever writing in Leviathan Wakes.
I didn’t find out until after I’d finished, that James S. A. Corey is actually the pen name for two people; Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. I have to say I think they blended perfectly; sometimes you can get a feel of two voices in these situations but I was unaware and very surprised when I did realise.
An amazingly exciting space opera, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what happens in the next book!