This is an interesting story, yes, but it could have been written by anyone. From the moment I started it to the last page, I didn’t really hear muchThis is an interesting story, yes, but it could have been written by anyone. From the moment I started it to the last page, I didn’t really hear much of Atwood’s usual voice in the narrative. None of the poetic, lush language she is so well known for is there. The characters are well developed, though none of them are likeable enough to root for. I love the bleakness of Atwood’s vision of the future, and the violent tendencies in humans that she bring to light, but I wish she had written all of this with her voice! At points, her word choices even felt as if they had been dumbed down to attract a wider audience. There are plenty of absurd scenes, with Elvis impersonators galore, which make me think she might have meant the novel to be a dark comedy, but the comedy aspect falls flat. As a reader who will buy anything Atwood writes, I truly hope she has gotten this style of writing out of her chest and gets back to the beautiful writing and poignant storylines she is known for ...more
In all honesty, I started this book with doubt that I would enjoy. I am not a huge fantasy reader and world-building tends to bore me, which is why IIn all honesty, I started this book with doubt that I would enjoy. I am not a huge fantasy reader and world-building tends to bore me, which is why I was wary about a novel that, although it takes place in our world, has a pretty thorough universe of its own. The beginning is slow, with introduction to characters that are not particularly likeable. It reminded me a bit of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, which I truly disliked. So the book and I did not begin on the right foot. All of that to say, however, that from about the middle of the novel onward, I fell in love with it. Once the narrative took off, I just couldn’t put it down. It kept me reading long into the night until the very end. So, yes, it requires a bit of patience when starting it, but it is worth the effort. From the ending, I sincerely hope there will be a sequel. ...more
The premise of this novel is interesting, but its execution leaves quite a lot to be desired. The pacing is stilted, with lurches of action that thenThe premise of this novel is interesting, but its execution leaves quite a lot to be desired. The pacing is stilted, with lurches of action that then slow down to a crawl, and with writing that sometimes reads as less than professional. The story does have some satisfying moments, but its conclusion is much too rushed, with the protagonist getting her life back together in about two paragraphs. There is also quite a bit of “telling”, entire important scenes brushed aside with a few words. It feels like the author got bored halfway through some plot points and decided to speed things along, no matter how awkward it read. More than anything, the novel needed a few more intensive rounds of editing to get rid of some of the forced sentences and the uneven pacing that plagues its pages. ...more
This is a lovely example of what Indie writers can bring to the publishing world. It is a beautiful, touching story that has something for everyone, fThis is a lovely example of what Indie writers can bring to the publishing world. It is a beautiful, touching story that has something for everyone, from those of you who enjoy more literary fiction to those of you who like a bit of action in your stories. Of course, as with any of Peacock’s books, the lush scenery in which he sets his novels takes precedence. It is almost like another character, infusing the plot with its whims. It is so much so that the reader cannot imagine the story taking place anywhere else. The protagonist is fully fleshed out, making him very real to the reader. The plot is well done, with pacing that keeps you interested but without the rushing that you sometimes get from books that are completely plot-led. This novel has a balance of character driven and plot driven action that feels natural and flows easily. If you are looking for a book that is different, that provides the tropical atmosphere of Hawaii as well as a fun plot and a great set of characters, then this one is a good choice. ...more
Stephen King is a master at what he does. If there were any doubts in my mind as to his skills as a story-teller, then this novel wiped them clear. NoStephen King is a master at what he does. If there were any doubts in my mind as to his skills as a story-teller, then this novel wiped them clear. Not only is it frightening, but it is told in a way that unfolds the horrors in its pages slowly, building up the tension until it boils. One of the things I most enjoy about Stephen King novels is the way that he brings a group of characters together, bonding them with each other and with the reader, so that we feel just as much a part of the group as they are. The protagonists in this novel are all lovable and wholly real. I would have liked, however, to have learned a bit more about Robert Gray. King’s foreshadowing is masterfully done in this novel, as is the way he connects one chapter to the other fluidly. The only thing I felt a bit disappointing was the defeat of It in the present day. It was a bit anti-climactic, with not nearly enough of the tension that King is so good at building. He recovers from this well, though, because he brings a particular poignancy to the last few chapters of the novel. I won’t reveal what happens, but the ending leaves the reader feeling as if they have just lost a good friend. ...more
This book astounded me. It wasn’t so much the storyline, which was interesting enough in its own right, but the manner in which the author told it. ShThis book astounded me. It wasn’t so much the storyline, which was interesting enough in its own right, but the manner in which the author told it. She has an incredible way of expressing herself, in an almost cinematographic way. She uses small jumps of view point which enhance our understanding of the story as well as increasing the tension in a particular scene. One of the things I loved most about this novel was the mixture of the modern along with the period details. The flashes of the future which Kenelm receives are intricately woven into the storyline in a way that do not distract but instead enhance the narrative. Apart from the obvious extensive research the author has done to put us right in the middle of this time period, there is a wonder to her words that bring it all to life. This is one of my favorite books of the year and an author I will definitely watch with much interest. ...more
Although slightly predictable, The Ice Twins was written in such a captivating style that it is worth reading if just for that. There is such tensionAlthough slightly predictable, The Ice Twins was written in such a captivating style that it is worth reading if just for that. There is such tension in the writing which increases slowly, chapter by chapter, until the reader is completely spooked as well as engrossed in the story. It is a novel that is hard to put down once you start. The characters are all my favorite type: unreliable. Nothing they say can really be taken as the truth, which makes for exciting reading. None of them are very likeable, not even the children in the story, but they are definitely fascinating to read about. The setting, too, is almost another character. Because of this the novel has a distinctive Gothic feel to it, with an isolated island which blocks all communication with the mainland when the tide rises, and with mudflats that threaten the characters’ lives again and again. If you are looking for a way to spend a few hours deliciously entertained and even frightened, then this novel is one I certainly recommend. ...more
This novel was a bit on the formulaic side. It promised a surprise ending, but it was pretty easy to work out what that was going to be from the beginThis novel was a bit on the formulaic side. It promised a surprise ending, but it was pretty easy to work out what that was going to be from the beginning. The characters did not jump off the page as they should have, and some of their actions made little to no sense. The ending was pieced together haphazardly and much too quickly, bringing the story to an anticlimactic finish.
The novel had the potential to be a great thriller, but it ended feeling flat and underwhelming. ...more
This book began with such promise, but it ended up feeling flat. The premise was the kind that I enjoy: a secluded house in a small village, full of mThis book began with such promise, but it ended up feeling flat. The premise was the kind that I enjoy: a secluded house in a small village, full of mystery and touches of horror. The problem is that the plot is really not all that original. The characters were nothing out of the ordinary, and except for Charlie, they did not come to life the way the reader needs in order to feel connected to them. There is a lot of backstory that we are missing about their lives, so we really can’t engage with them too much. The villagers are cookie-cutter side characters who attempt to bring a sense of menace to the story but don’t always succeed, mainly because they are interchangeable. They leave the reader with lots of unanswered questions. Although there are some moments that do chill the reader the conclusion is just not satisfying. The author does a pretty good job with the pacing towards the beginning, but fumbles it at the end, so that we are rushing to the conclusion much too quickly. This was an entertaining book up to the last couple of chapters when everything was revealed. There are some nice moments that will keep your reading, but overall it’s not one I would pick up again. ...more
This is one of the most moving and exquisite novels I’ve read in a long while. The author offers an incredibly authentic voice in his flawed protagoniThis is one of the most moving and exquisite novels I’ve read in a long while. The author offers an incredibly authentic voice in his flawed protagonist, Danny Kelly, which lingers in the reader’s mind long after the last page is done. The writing is relentlessly poignant. It is honest in a manner that is sometimes difficult to read, but offers some gorgeous sentences that resonate with anyone who has ever strived for something and somehow lost their way. The manner in which the author told the story also adds to the many dimensions this novel has to offer. It takes the reader back and forth through time, tingeing the victories of Kelly’s early life with the knowledge the reader has of what is to come. The last couple of pages, in particular, are difficult to read, but give the novel the perfect ending. The honesty of the writing might not for everyone. The author does not shy away from anything, which makes the novel both exciting and brutal to read. This is a novel that I will be recommending to everyone for a long time. With its compelling story and a protagonist that leaps off the page, this one is a must read. ...more
Writing a new novel starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson can either be a fun homage to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or it can be a paiWriting a new novel starring Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson can either be a fun homage to the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, or it can be a painful game of imitation that leaves readers cringing. This was the latter.
For one thing, the timeline where this story is supposed to happen makes absolutely no sense. The plot takes place within those three years where Holmes was considered to be dead after fighting with Professor Moriarty, but it allows Watson and Holmes to meet again before the canonical meeting in “The Empty House”. Considering how surprised Watson is in the original Doyle story of their reunion, this add-on leaves readers scratching their head. If Watson already knew he was alive because of this fanfiction passing as a novel, then why would he be so shocked in Doyle’s story?
That blatant disregard for canon is not the worst thing that this novel has to offer, unfortunately. There are endless pages of exposition explaining how Holmes survived, which are laughably unrealistic. There is the fact that now apparently Moriarty survived Reichenbach, as well, making that entire Doyle story pointless. There are also ridiculous suggestions at Holmes’ interest in philosophy of any sort, including vegetarianism. Most of the characters, apart from Watson, speak like Holmes, including one man who uses the same detection skills as the famous detective. There are the mind-numbing travelogue pages that boil down to “we got on a train, we got off a train.” I could go on and on about the faults this book has to offer, but the worst one, the one that made me push the novel aside time and time again is that it was boring. I have never found a Sherlock Holmes story boring, not even the ones written towards the end of Conan Doyle’s patience with the character. The characters were pale copies of the originals and the plot was laughable. Although the book is marketed as seriocomic, it is neither serious nor comedic. Just dull. This is not a good Sherlock Holmes story, as you have probably deduced by now, pun intended. Stick to the originals or to the ones approved by the Doyle estate. ...more
David Vann’s new novel, Aquarium, is not an easy read. It is full of wrenching moments that linger in the reader’s mind for days after the book is oveDavid Vann’s new novel, Aquarium, is not an easy read. It is full of wrenching moments that linger in the reader’s mind for days after the book is over. Vann is known for the brutal honesty of his writing. There is nothing tame here, not the characters, with their various and sometimes overwhelming flaws, and certainly not the plot, which takes us to the center of the very worst of humanity and back. The story revolves around twelve-year-old Caitlin, who struggles to navigate through her mother’s unbalanced moods and her own budding sexuality. It is, at its core, a simple enough plot but the author manages to infuse it with such violence that some of its scenes cannot be read fully without taking a break and thinking of something more pleasant. There is power in this kind of unflinching writing. It captures the reader from the first page and doesn’t let go until long after the novel is done. The ending was a bit less than satisfactory, however. It felt rushed. After all the careful detail and planning that went into crafting a stunning story, the ending needed a bit more work. More resolution. As is it is, the whole novel is wrapped up in a few pages, leaving more questions than answers. This novel is beautiful in a terrifying way. It’s a bit like a car crash from which you can’t turn away. If you are looking to have your emotions gutted, then this one, or any of Vann’s novels, is a good choice. ...more