An interesting book of an emergent, conscious AI who experiences other humans through their interactions on the Internet. The story[read for TA class]
An interesting book of an emergent, conscious AI who experiences other humans through their interactions on the Internet. The story itself follows three different "story" streams: 1) Caitlin Decter and her discovery of Webmind (from the previous book), as well as her parents' and her doctor; 2) the US cyber-terrorism intelligence agency called "WATCH"; and 3) Webmind itself through Shoshana and her work with Hobo the hybrid Bonobo-Chimpanzee. Each chapter begins with Webmind's thoughts or experiences, and then delves into something happening within a two week (I believe) period of the book.
There are some very interesting concepts of emergent AIs and, in this case, Sawyer does his best to explain how Webmind can have a consciousness and make good/bad decisions through the Decter's moral coaching, but the book is also very heavy in technobabble, even though those characters who explain it dumb it down to 16-year-old Caitlin, her friend, and Matt, as well as other 'not-in-the-know' characters.
Overall, a quick, and easy read, but I'm unsure if I'll read the resolution in the third of the series anytime soon....more
OK - I had some trouble with the right star rating for this book. In fact, I debated it all yesterday afternoon after I finished the book, all eveningOK - I had some trouble with the right star rating for this book. In fact, I debated it all yesterday afternoon after I finished the book, all evening, and then even dreamed about it. So what can I do? Here's the biggest issue: I lovedDivergent, BUT there were things that really got me down in this book.
So, here we go... (excuse the length)
(view spoiler)[ Let's start with the bad and get it out of the way. THE CHARACTERS Tris's PDST/Guilt about Will/Phobia of guns: Wow, did this ever get me down something terrible. Look, I get it; she's guilty over killing Will, point-blank range, she even wonders why she didn't shoot 'em in the foot/kneecap-Mafia style -- whatever. That's cool. But at no point does she, with her very awesome Divergent powered brain -- learn to overcome her phobia and guilt. She doesn't pick up a gun and try aiming at stationary targets in the Pit; she doesn't talk to Tobias, or Christina, or anyone about her fear; she doesn't even learn another weapon as a contingency plan -- and she's apparently fond of knives, which I think are almost worse because you got to get up in someone's space to murder them. Easier when you're further away; can't see them as they die.
Tobias -- the new Tom Riddle: Oh boy. Tobias/Four was a WONDERFUL character back in the days of Divergent. LOVED HIM. To itty bitty bits. And then he became obsessed with his mother, hated his father, oh boo hoo they both abandoned me in different ways and if you gave him a wand he'd suddenly be Tom Riddle a la Voldemort trying to take over the wizarding world because his parents didn't want him. Which, clearly, was the case here. (I've got loads to say about Marcus Eaton in the bit, see the GOOD THINGS) His lack of trust and faith in Tris, even though she does everything for him, is really pissy. So, Tris -- eff him. Go hook up with Peter. He's kinda a mofo and awesome. (oh, God, I think my newfound love for Cato/Katniss might have brought that one on....)
Caleb. That douchebag: Seriously? SERIOUSLY? That is all I have to say. Because it was so effing stupid I don't even know where to start. HIS PARENTS DIED PRACTICALLY IN FRONT OF HIM BY A SIMULATION RUN BY JEANINE MATTHEWS! Why would he join the enemy? Unless he's a spy. But he's not as cool as Zeke and Tori (bitch) were.
THE PLOT It sucked. I think this was my biggest regret of this book. Divergent set up this totally awesome post-apocalyptic world, but one where the characters knew that they were still in Chicago, knew things about their past, etc. I loved it. I thought it was great. And then, in the first book, came the hint about the gate. Hmmm, I got some ideas there, but nothing solid.
Then, Insurgent came. And within a hundred pages, the went south. And not the good south, like little umbrellas in tropical drinks south, but south as in the crapper. I figured it out. Within a hundred pages, I knew that Insurgent was the flipping The Village, M. Night Shyamalan's last good film (okay, that's debatable, too, but let's go with it.).
If you've seen the Village, then you know what I mean. If you've read Insurgent, then you know what the Village is about. If you are being silly, and reading a spoiler and haven't seen the film nor read the book -- go and do either, please. To the point - the film really got to me because of the twist at the end: everyone was in a secure compound, as a social experiment to see if violent tendencies could be removed by living in a much simpler past and time where there was no access to guns, drugs, other violent-related material. (Side note: Veronica Roth is three years younger than me; I watched the Village in University -- she totally could have seen it and let it influence her writing)
Oh, wait, that's Insurgent, isn't it? Although -- here's a thought -- where did the Dauntless get guns from if they're supposed to be living this alternative, hippie free love experience? Ooh, plot point for book three?
I guess because I'd already seen the Village I was let down by the second book. I knew what had happened, I knew it was a social experiment, I knew that people were lab mice for the big, bad world out there. Book three will probably address that big, bad world -- but...
Was it wrong of me to want to know that Chicago was the last bastion of a destroyed world? To know that maybe there were nomadic tribes and warlords and others out there instead of a huge corporation who wanted to be altruistic and save humanity, one dominant trait at a time?
Finding original work is difficult nowadays; it's probably why The Hunger Games did so well, as it did. I'm not bashing Roth's work. Really -- it can seem that way, but I'm not. I do love the world she's created and find it interesting and I'll read the next book. I was just... disappointed.
BUT... THE AWESOMENESS: THE CHARACTERS Peter (the Magnificent -- oh, wait, wrong Peter): Yeah, he's evil. He stabbed Edward in the eye (but he's unhinged, so it's even). He's tried to kill Tris loads of times -- buuuuut he's also saved her hiney loads of times too. He has a really strong sense of morality in owing favours, which is hilariously anti-hero. Which means, ladies and gents -- he's the opposite of Tobias and the secondary lead male. Bravo. His really interesting as a character because how does a Candor-born Dauntless lie so well? And is he really brave and moving past his fears, as Dauntless suggests? No. He doesn't ever act that way; he's cruel, but being cruel was not necessarily a part of the Initiation or Aptitude Tests -- killing the dog was a self-defence strategy employed to see how people fared under pressure. Christina said they all killed the dog -- yes, bravery against a worthy adversary -- but Peter's acts since imply he's Divergent. Or, slightly. Which makes him interesting.
Marcus, the hard-nosed Daddy from the 30s: My first thought was that he'd make a great gangster from the 40s. Al Capone, baby. Marcus is an interesting combination of Abnegation selflessness and cruelty that is so Dauntless it's hilarious that his son went there to escape him. Which makes me think that Natalie, Tris's mom, wasn't the only Dauntless switch in her days. (Or Tris's father; Erudite symptoms do appear in Marcus, constantly) But that hasn't been revealed so far, so it's speculation. I love that he's double-sided, that Tris doesn't know if he's "good" or "bad" and that he does good things, but he's also done bad in his past and she realises that she needs him. Which is brilliant, because he even says it, that there really isn't a black/white, clear-cut case.
Uriah: I was kinda ticked when he and Marlene started hooking up. Because he's a way better partner for Tris than Tobias is turning out to be. And he's ten times more awesome. Why?? Because he never stopped being Tris's friend. Ever. When it was found out she's Divergent - he was there for her. When she went off and did traitorous things - he didn't say anything. When she acted rashly and stuck to her convictions - he supported her. Tobias? Please take notes. That's what a good boyfriend is like. Uriah never cared about Tris's bad habits or traits; it was because he liked her for her, and for no other reason than thinking she rocked. And that makes him awesome in my book.
Fernando: Why did you die? WHY? You were cool. That is all.
THE PLOT Yes, there were things I liked! Amity jumping ship; Candor being used as cannon-fodder; Jeanine Matthews breaking down when Tris totally WHOOPED HER ASS YO. Tobias being stupid (because it just highlighted how cool Peter, Uriah and Fernando were instead); Cara leading the Erudite traitors, despite Tris having killed Will; Joanna (that says it all).
And I really hope that Tris learns how to be all Snake Eyes in her awesomeness of awesome. Because, of course, that would be cool and stop her phobia from getting worse. Word. (hide spoiler)]
But that was about it. It was little bits and pieces that I loved. I really did; overall, something in me did die a little. But I have a strong hope that book three will be much more solid and way more interesting than Insurgent. It was, after all, technically a transition, fluff piece before we get to THE SHIT IS HITTING THE FANS, HOLY CRAP ON A BATSTICK, HEROES!!!
So, despite the bad, which would give this book a 2/5 star rating -- some of the nice things really excited me for book three. Making it really 2.5/5, but since Goodreads doesn't do that, it got bumped to 3/5.
Okay. Comment and flame away, if you'd like....more
**spoiler alert** If you read the spoilers for this book, then you definitely know what this book is about, with very little twists and turns. (some s**spoiler alert** If you read the spoilers for this book, then you definitely know what this book is about, with very little twists and turns. (some spoilers below)
Overall, it has a super nice touch with the creepy photos, which reminds me of "The Others," in its freakishness. However, the story itself, but the time you near the end of the book, is pretty much a ripoff of a fairly popular comic/graphic novel series, TV show(s) and movie franchise.
Jacob is an ordinary 16-year-old (yeah, right, or else we wouldn't have a story), who finds his grandfather dying behind his house in Florida - but what killed him and why? Why does no one believe Jacob and the strange, disgusting creature he saw lurking in the glades behind his grandfather's house?
The story travels to remote Wales (the descriptions of the Welsh landscape is fairly accurate. I've lived there. It's bleak and grey, rainy and foggy and that DOESN'T CHANGE EVER), where Jacob tries to unravel the mystery of his grandfather's displaced WWII past and his refugee - non-Narnia like, unfortunately - in a strange home: Miss Peregrine's, the title of the novel.
Riggs manages to weave a few interesting pointers and mysterious final words from Jacob's grandfather into the story but pretty much as soon as Jacob not only realizes who Miss Peregrine's wayward children are, and who Jacob truly is, the story does just rehash popular fiction to a war-time backdrop (probably the only interesting quantum physics time-loop I've come across, but still).
It's a young adult novel; I don't find Jacob really grows as a character - he has only a few moments of growth - and the others certainly don't grow either as characters. There's a whole slew of them and you soon lose yourself with the majority of the minor characters, despite having "pictures" to back them up. If you're a young teen and looking for a variant on the human species with powers story, Ransom Riggs delivers. If you're looking for something original and a bit more violent and developed for character growth, read X-Men. ...more
I was super impressed with this book. At first I was sceptical - who wants to read a story about an uppity 17 year old who hacks and gets caught? butI was super impressed with this book. At first I was sceptical - who wants to read a story about an uppity 17 year old who hacks and gets caught? but the story becomes far more than that when the character Marcus realises that it's more than just being in the wrong place at the wrong time and his hacking skills that cause him trouble... it's about a person's fundamental rights.
The story itself is cutesy - you've heard it before - but the way Doctorow pulls the story together is nicely done and plays on the fears of our own growing Big Brother society, especially in the USA and Britain. The ending is bleh, a mismash of "you can do this too - fight for your freedom" but overall an excellent read. ...more
"I Am Number Four" is a very different take on the 'invading' alien sub-genre of the sci-fi world - but at the same time it echoes the teen angst that"I Am Number Four" is a very different take on the 'invading' alien sub-genre of the sci-fi world - but at the same time it echoes the teen angst that you find in the Twilight section. Only this time, it isn't pretty, hard-as-diamonds vampires that the girl falls for, it's the alien from another planet that lived its life in harmony with nature.
The book is fairly well-written; it's told in first-person narrative, from John's perspective, and you get a very good sense of his relationship with Henri, his adopted father and Cepan (guardian) from his home planet that escaped with him. You tend to fall for his want to stay away from the limelight, knowing John needs to survive and stay smart -- and if he doesn't, he's dead.
You enjoy the supporting characters: Sam Goode, his alien, conspiracy-theory raving-obsessed friend and fellow outcast at school, Mike Jones the beefy athlete who eventually comes into his own that you cheer on along the way, and even the typical 'girl next door' Sarah Hart.
The drag? God, what a boring battle scene. Between rushing in the school, out of the school, into the woods, out of the woods, back to the school, around the school, out of the school - while worrying about dear girlfriend Sarah and non-alien Mike, John does a lot of running around for a place that is supposedly surrounded by Mogardorian advance guard and weird animals/beasts they brought with them from the invasion of John's home planet, Lorien.
The climax could use some work; they kill off one of my favourite characters and the ending is bitter because you know it's going to be a franchise series spawned from knowing he's number four and there are still six of these aliens left on earth to find and track down and then team up for this awesome, amazing epic battle.
Yet... I think I could totally wait for these other books. While the book was a quick, fairly easy read and held my attention - I didn't read it all in a single night like I did with Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan," or Suzeanne Collin's "Hunger Games". Maybe some more writing practice for the co-writers under the Pittacus Lore pseudonym would be beneficial. And maybe then you'll see me actually care about Number Four....more
"Behemoth" is the second in Westerfeld's 'Leviathan' trilogy, a steampunk, alternative history to WWI. Picking up where "Leviathan" left off, "Behemot"Behemoth" is the second in Westerfeld's 'Leviathan' trilogy, a steampunk, alternative history to WWI. Picking up where "Leviathan" left off, "Behemoth" continues with Alek and Deryn onboard the Leviathan, heading to the Ottoman Empire, where the Austrians plan their escape. Alek makes new friends and enemies in the Empire, and he and Deryn even stage a revolution together.
I found 'Behemoth' to have a low start, especially for a jam-packed first novel that 'Leviathan' was; but the story admirably picks up and then hurtles down towards the climax. You feel for every character you meet, even the ones you don't like, and are eager to know where Alek and Deryn go next in the Leviathan as the story closes...
Westerfeld's writing of alternate history is fabulous as he ties in actual historical facts with the twists required for alternative history. Some tweaks and creative liberties are given, but overall the story is engaging and exciting to read....more
I was recommended this book by another teacher at my school. Her husband suggested it as a great steampunk!alternate history book of WWI.
Set in the eaI was recommended this book by another teacher at my school. Her husband suggested it as a great steampunk!alternate history book of WWI.
Set in the early summer of 1914, "Leviathan" takes place in an alternate universe where in the 1800s Charles Darwin discovered DNA (called "life strands" in the novel) and began to experiment on them to create hybrids and crossbreed animals. In retaliation, other countries became more "mechanised", following the Japanese Anime style of 'mecha', mechanised warriors. These countries are divided by more than politics and borders.
In Britain, Scottish Deryn hides her gender and identity to join the British Air Force and somehow manages to find her way aboard the 'Leviathan,' the largest and earliest Darwinist creation of several living creatures to create a Zeppelin-type airship. Across Europe in Austria-Hungary, Prince Aleksander is awoken in the dead of night and kidnapped by four of his fathers' picks, unable to believe his parents have been assassinated in the dead of night...
The story follows both Deryn and Alek until the two finally meet in an exciting and well-thought out climax with a terrible ending that makes you reach for Book 2! The characters are well-written and their personalities change as their situations change and they grow up in the dawn of war. Political intrigue, mystery, sci-fi and fantasy, and even a bit of a stirring of romance keep you entertained for the 400+ pages this novel crunches out.
It is NOT a dull read. At all - this book is exciting in all the right places and anyone who has ever seen an episode of 'Gundam Wing,' 'Macross' or 'Neon Genesis' will be easily able to imagine the 'Clankers' that the industrialised countries have created, while fantasy fans will be able to picture the 'Beasties' the Darwinists crossbred.
Wow - a really interesting take on the Marvel universe set in 1602. Not a re-write of the Marvel uni like you'd expect, it definitely presents some grWow - a really interesting take on the Marvel universe set in 1602. Not a re-write of the Marvel uni like you'd expect, it definitely presents some great twists and turns!
If you're not a super big Marvel fan, you'll need the extras at the back of the graphic to help you figure out who is who - because it doesn't just contain the X-Men universe, but the Avengers and Spiderman worlds as well.
A great story set to the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth's death, incorporating James's fear of the supernatural, the powers of the Marvel superheroes, as well as several other tidbits any history buff would like to see in a different light.