Reading this book was kinda lika watching the movie Aliens for me.
See, when I started watching Aliens, I didn't much like it. It was so very differen...moreReading this book was kinda lika watching the movie Aliens for me.
See, when I started watching Aliens, I didn't much like it. It was so very different from the first movie, which I really liked, and I found myself constantly rolling my eyes at the macho military men. "Great," I thought, "these guys are gonna start dropping like flies soon, and I'm not gonna give a shit."
I was partially right. They did start dropping like flies.
But oh god, did I care.
I have no idea how it happened, but I found myself loving those silly macho men and screaming out loud when they were in danger. Hicks, Vasquez, Hudson, even Gorman, although he was a useless little turd... they all mattered to me.
This book was like that. When I started out, I kept thinking: "This is good, but hardly as revolutionary as people make it out to be."
And I stand by that. The world building is very good and the magic system is interesting, but we've seen this before; a small, mötley crew sets out to defeat a far superior force and overcome impossible odds, thereby finding a new destiny for themselves. The characters are your typical band of noble theives; we have the gentle giant, the refined smooth-talker, the grumpy-pants, the newbie, the charismatic leader, etc.
But god-fucking-damn did it hurt when those characters got in trouble!
There were times when I had to put the book down because of the things I was afraid would happen to them. Characters I didn't think I cared about - Marsh! Ham! - elicted crazy emotional responses from me whenever they got in on the action. That's how I realized they were some of my favourites! (view spoiler)[Especially Marsh, oh my god, I kept hoping he'd turn into an inquisitor and then he did and I was like OMG MARSH DON'T DIE I ALREADY THOUGHT I LOST YOU ONCE I WILL NOT SURVIVE IF YOU DIE AGAIN OMG YOU SURVIVED THANK GOD TAKE ME NOW I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE SPIKES BECAUSE YOU'RE ALIVE AND SO BADASS AND I LOVE YOOOOUUU (hide spoiler)]
Vin is a very good main character. She's interesting, strong, vulnerable, and she gets a shitload of character-development. Honestly, that's all I ask for in a female character. If I can at least get that, I don't mind leaning back and enjoying the romance, even if it is a little bit cheesy. Which, of course, it was. But that's okay, because I thought Elend was an adorable little air-head and I do enjoy indulgence every now and again. It was all good, in my opinion.
I only wish there were more women like Vin in this story. The only other strong, female character we ever got a mention of was Mare, but, well... (view spoiler)[she's dead (hide spoiler)]. The rest of the women were either nameless extras, vapid gossips, bitches, or a combination of the three. Here's to hoping for an improvement in comming installments!
Now, I cannot do this review without mentioning Kelsier and the Lord Ruler.
Kelsier is arguably the most important character in the book. He sets the events into motion that comes to change the world forever. He is the charismatic leader of the crew and the mentor of Vin. He is the survivor of Hathsin and the mastermind behind the plan.
And yet, for a long time, I was kinda 'meh...' about him.
I liked him fine, he wasn't bad or anything, I just... I don't know. To me, Kelsier was at his best when he was pushed to the absolute limit. When the shit hit the fan I adored the man to the very bottom of my heart and the strongest scenes in the book undoubtedly belongs to him. I think it's because Kelsier is one of those characters who gets more attractive the more broken down and beat up they get. You know what I'm talking about, don't act like you don't. But before that, he was a little too much like the stereotypical charismatic rogue.
As for the Lord Ruler... Brandon Sanderson wrote him PEEEEEEERFECTLY. I'm not even kidding. I absolutely loved him. The build-up to his entrance, the descriptions of him, the things he did, his backstory... it was all handled incredibly well. I can only applaud Sanderson on such a great villain.
And the world really is set up beautifully too. I love the atmosphere and the descriptions. I love how absolutely everything reflects how shitty the world is, from the weather to the people. It rains ash instead of water, for gods sake!
As for the magic, it's also a great system. I can't wait to see all the boundaries they'll stretch in the next book, and all the new discoveries they will make! Sanderson is also a genius when it comes to writing action scenes. Every scene had me on the edge of my seat, picturing perfectly every move, every strike that the characters recieved and dealt out. It was wonderful to read.
In conclusion, Mistborn: The Final Empire may not be as revolutionary as reviews have led me to believe, but it's still a damn good book. I would like to end this review in some clever, thoughful way, but since I'm not a very witty person I'm just going to recommend it warmly! You will not regret reading it! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
You're evil incarnate, and you need to be destroyed.
Erik Ponti just wants to leave all the violence and criminality behind. He wants to get away from...moreYou're evil incarnate, and you need to be destroyed.
Erik Ponti just wants to leave all the violence and criminality behind. He wants to get away from his sadistic devil of a father, his dreary school, and the so-called friends who let him down. When he is transferred to a new boarding school, Stjärnberg, he thinks it might just be the saving grace he has been waiting for. He can finally start over: nobody knows him on Stjärnberg. Instead of Erik the violent gang leader, he can be Erik, the quiet boy with the goofy haircut.
Unfortunately, that's not what happens.
Stjärnberg turns out to be a melting pot of violence and insanity. In Stjärnberg, it's up to the older students to educate their younger peers in proper behaviour, and the teachers are not allowed to interfere. They call it "comrade rearing". In actuality, the last year-students dominate the younger ones through methodical harassments and beatings. In Stjärnberg, the rules of the real world don’t apply.
Erik doesn't fit into this world. At all. But, thanks to his indomitable personality and skills as a fighter, he is most certainly not helpless.
What worked? So much!
First of all: the prose. Jan Guillou doesn't care about proper grammar or pretentious formulations or shit like that. He writes honestly and fluently, sets the mood of every scene perfectly by choosing his words carefully and slowing down or speeding up the rhythm when it's needed. He is no doubt up there with Stephen King when it comes to good prose. I read this book in Swedish, the original language, but I'm aware that many of the readers on this site might have to read a copy in another language. All I can hope is that the translation holds up to the original. It's a shame to miss it.
Second, the characters. There are some characters in this book that aren't nearly well-developed enough (which is mostly why I did not give it five stars), but those that are developed are wonderful. Erik is a manipulative, violent young man with issues as large as Australia. But he is also incredibly intelligent, vulnerable, and painfully sympathetic. He's the best fighter you will ever see, not because he's the biggest or strongest or fastest, but because he knows how to play his opponent. He knows how people work. He knows how to make them scared. And, as Erik himself states, fear is really much worse than pain. Over and over again, we see him use his amazing intellect to manipulate people into giving up before they ever realize it. It's often-times satisfying, sometimes frightening, but rarely unenjoyable.
Pierre Tanguy, Erik's best friend, is another wonderful character. They're as different as night and day, but balance each other perfectly. I deeply enjoyed their friendship; the scenes where they interacted casually or worked together were some of my favourites, and without giving away too many spoilers, (view spoiler)[it was heart-wrenching to see the turn their relationship took (hide spoiler)].
As far as the rest of the cast, including Erik's family, the students and teachers at Stjärnberg, and Marja, I will just say that some were terrible but at the same time immensely enoyable while others were unbearable to read about and some really should have been given more screen-time. No spoilers here!
Additionally, this book has some of the best fight-scenes I've ever read. Yeah, Hunger Games and the rest of YA can suck it, because they've got nothing on Erik's formidable displays of violence. Jan Guillou does a fantastic job raising the tension before a fight, and you're never quite sure who or what is going to snap, or when.
On the other side of the coin, the humor is spot on! Watching Erik "stick it to the man" is just as satisfying as his fights, especially considering his wit is as sharp as his knuckles. But that's not all; here's another area where Guillou's descriptions and word-choices really shine. He's got a very dry sense of humor which I loved!
But what really makes this book one of the best is that it matters. For better or worse, we've all witnessed violence. Heck, this book is even based on Jan Guillou's own life! (By the way, that boy on the cover? A young Guillou!) Whether we love it or hate it, believe it needs to stop or think it's a means to an end, violence is a prominent part of our world. Ondskan doesn't try to sell us on one point of view or the other. Not really. It just tells it like it is, and lets you make your own decision. And that, to me, is what makes a great book.
I really hope you will read this. I think everyone should. It's just one of those books, you know? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Honestly? This would've been a four, or maybe even five-star book if it hadn't been for the last fifth or so. I found it drawn...moreYeah, I know, I know...
Honestly? This would've been a four, or maybe even five-star book if it hadn't been for the last fifth or so. I found it drawn out and dreadfully boring. Basically, what happend is that Mark Twain re-uses a joke from the start of the book, and it falls so flat that you wouldn't believe it. Tom Sawyer, a character who had been childishly endearing before, became incredibly annoying, so much so that I'm not gonna read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer unless someone forces me. He's just that annoying.
All in all, I found myself struggling to finish a book which I had previously been enjoying immensely. That kind of shift is really jarring.
Still, I liked Huck and Jim very much. They really are timeless characters, and I'm very happy I read this book!