When a male confesses to not hating Twilight, of course he receives an intervention. A buddy of mine gave me some very good arguments for why I should...moreWhen a male confesses to not hating Twilight, of course he receives an intervention. A buddy of mine gave me some very good arguments for why I should hate Twilight, and I don't disagree with him. In fact, I'm having a very hard time justifying why I didn't blatantly hate the book. It has everything I should not like, and yet I didn't hate it... I'm told Anne Rice told the same story with much more maturity and insight, minus the angsty teenage romance, preserving vampires as a genuine, monstrous threat, and yet I didn't hate the book. I realize the main character is pathetically passive and helpless, Edward loves her for no good reason, Bella is stupid and useless to the point of being unlikable, and yet I didn't hate the book! In fact, I liked New Moon better than Twilight.
If Twilight was all about finding a boyfriend and being head over heels in love with him, New Moon is all about how girls handle breaking up with their boyfriends. Every action has an equal but opposite reaction, and as giddy as Bella was about having a loyal, loving vampire boyfriend, she is just as broken up when he leaves her. His reason is almost noble: just him being there puts her in harm's way, so to keep her safe, he leaves Forks. He never asks her if she's willing to live with the danger; he just makes up his mind anyway. Stupid and melodramatic, but I can see how Edward might need a break from rescuing Bella from herself all the time.
Bella becomes paralyzed with grief from the breakup. She pines away for four whole months, becoming a zombie, unable to handle the reality that her beloved Edward, who didn't love her for any reason other than her blood scent made him love her, is gone.
This is pathetic. Really, it is. She doesn't even try to see Edward's point. Instead, she simply folds into herself and broods for four whole months. I honestly don't believe his absence justifies such a huge reaction. Again, Edward's only motivation for loving Bella was her scent. Bella's only motivation for loving Edward was the fact that he is interested in her, he's beautiful--in short, because he loves Bella for no good reason!
In Twilight I was willing to believe that she was beguiled by his vampire charm and under his spell and that's why she still yearns for him. The book implies that's how vampires lure their prey, so that must be what Bella is going through. Twilight hinted at this, but in New Moon it seems clear that... this is just who she is. I think if the book established this is why she's so obsessed with Edward, she'd be a hell of a lot more likable, but that's reaching. It's who Bella is. No vampire charm needed.
So she pines away, and then she starts hearing Edward's voice in her memory whenever she does something reckless and dangerous. She decides to start riding a motorcycle just to be reckless so she can hear Edward's voice again. She finds a couple old motorcycles on the side of the road, and remembers there's one person who can rebuild them: Jacob.
Ah, Jacob. He's the reason I enjoyed reading New Moon! He's the reason I read the entire middle-third of the book with a glimmer of hope in my heart for Bella!
Bella spends time with Jacob while he rebuilds the motorcycles for her. They share experiences, they do things together, Bella even laughs! They share a running joke between one another, and it's cute! I mean it, it made me smile! Jacob and Bella build a real relationship! Bella actually becomes a happy person!
This is way more than she had with Edward! Much, much more! There's actually a reason for Jacob to be interested in Bella, she actually has a reason to be interested in him! She's not as klutzy all of a sudden, she's laughing and enjoying herself! Instead of comparing herself to the perfect vampire and feeling horribly inadequate, she's on equal terms with Jacob, and it suits her a hell of a lot better!
Granted she's there for a very selfish, emo, illogical purpose, but it morphs into something beneficial, which is interesting and good! I wondered if Bella could be on the way to redeeming herself.
But nope. She's afraid to let go of the pain of losing Edward, probably because she's afraid to be happy without him. She's afraid to move on with someone else, like she should. She takes the wonderful relationship she builds with Jacob and throws it back in his face.
He actually asks her for a relationship. Not sex. A relationship, a commitment! Bella responds by leading him on, then pushing him away, then pulling him close because she "needs him," but she doesn't want to commit to him. Bella wants to use Jacob for emotional support, but she refuses to give him anything back, and it's not even sex he's after! The girl wants all the benefits of emotional support, but doesn't want to commit to him, and it's the guy who wants the serious relationship, not the girl. Is that bad writing or clever role reversal?
And I'm sure everyone knows Jacob is a werewolf, so there's no spoiler in giving that away. Why is Bella upset at Jacob for pushing her away after he first changes when she pushed him away first?
So then it comes out that a vampire named Victoria is hunting Bella, and the pack of werewolves have been the only thing keeping her safe. She is recruited to help lure the vampire close so the wolves can kill Victoria.
I love these werewolves... all big teenage boys bursting with muscles walking out of the woods bare-chested. Funny, and oh yeah I can understand why people hate these books. It's just so wrong to take terrifying creatures of the night and turn them into hot boys who are fighting over the ugly girl who doesn't deserve it.
But... men have been reimagining monsters into the image of beautiful women for male fantasy fulfillment for generations. Well, this book takes monsters and reimagines them into beautiful men for female eye candy. Again, payback hurts, don't it boys?
The solution to their problem should be simple: set Bella in a distant field, have the pack wait in the shadows for the vampire, and kill the bloodsucker as soon as she makes a move for Bella! It should be that easy, but the werewolves don't do this. They keep hunting for her while Bella goes about normal life, visiting the La Push reservation a little more frequently. They don't let Bella help, like Jacob proposed. I don't understand why they wouldn't. It would end the hunt a lot quicker.
So instead the werewolves hunt Victoria the hard way, keeping what she wants deep behind their lines. Even as these werewolves risk their lives to hunt the vampire that's stalking Bella, our protagonist broods over the loss of her boyfriend. Bella can't stand to be around Sam and Emily, two lovers on the reservation. Every time she's around them she's only reminded of what she and Edward once had and has to get away from them. First thought is: Bella, it's been months, get over it, Edward never really loved you, you never really had anything with him, the relationship you've built with Jacob is ten times stronger so stop teasing him and commit to a relationship damn it!
This seems very childish and wimpy but... from what my mother told me, it's like this. Girls handle the loss of a lover much differently than boys do. She hated being around older, happily married couples because all she could feel was the loss of her happy marriage. Whenever the pastor started preaching about things like unconditional love and marital commitment, she left the church to cry.
As stupid and illogical as her behavior is--and that we can't explain it away as being under the spell of a vampire--it's not supposed to be logical. Logic is not involved; emotions are running in high gear. Correct me if I'm generalizing, but isn't this how little girls think?
To drive that point home, while the werewolves are patrolling for Victoria, Bella decides to jump off a cliff into the ocean just to hear Edward's voice in her mind again. Bella, Bella, Bella... Jacob and Edward really are too good for you.
She is a very frustrating main character. She is pathetic, she is useless, she is helpless, but the reason I can read this and not hate it is because as insufferable as Bella is, being in such intimate touch with her thoughts characterizes her very well. It enables me to roll with her unjustified angst. She's still unlikable and I hate her intellectually, but thanks to the narration I believe that she believes what she does makes perfect sense. It's a bit like reading a book from the point of view of the villain. You might hate the person and what he does, but because you know what he's thinking, you believe in what he believes. Reading about Bella is like that. Even though I hate her, I accept her as a flighty, emotionally unstable, needy, teenage girl.
It's for the same reason I can't hate Al Bundy, or Homer Simpson, or Hyacinth Bucket. Outside the context of the sitcom, these are unlikable people! They are annoying, stupid, pathetic, insane losers--so much that we shouldn't like them, and yet we can't help but care what happens to them! I enjoyed reading Twilight and New Moon because I don't like the main character.
Honestly I am curious about this world of vampires and werewolves Twilight sets up, and that's why I'm reading. Edward's history is interesting. Dr. Cullen's history is interesting. His goal is admirable and I enjoy those sections of the story. The werewolves are also interesting--I would love to know more about this mental connection the pack shares, and just what kind of influence the alpha has on them. That's a really cool idea, but Bella is in the way of the story! I know she is and I should resent seeing this hidden world through her eyes, but I don't because Bella's pathetic brooding and self-destruction is fascinating, too, but for all the wrong reasons.
The conclusion of the book is disappointing. Ripping off Romeo and Juliet? Really? Is that the best the book could do?
It is interesting to find out Bella is immune to other vampires' talents as well, but her incessant whining about how she wants to become a vampire with Edward is irritating. To be fair, Edward doesn't make a good argument for why he wants her to stay human, but their relationship is built on such a weak foundation compared to what Bella had with Jacob I can't understand why she is so hellbent on it.
Of course, Bella wants it both ways. She wants Jacob as a friend and Edward as a lover, and she doesn't see why this could be a little unfair to both of them.
So far the series totally fails in its most important point: Edward and Bella are in love. I don't believe it. Jacob and Bella built a much stronger relationship in New Moon. Jacob brings out the best in her: humor, energy, life, sunshine! When Bella is with Edward, all she does is whine about wanting to be a vampire with him. She seems to make Edward more angry and frustrated than happy. Their love is not convincing. Meanwhile, with Jacob, they were both laughing and happy and sharing experiences together! To anyone else, it's a no-brainer what she should do, but not to Bella, and watching her make the wrong choices again and again is oddly addictive.
This series is so weak choosing to focus on the teenage angst and not the werewolves and vampires. The whole concept would be much better if Bella were like this because she is under a vampire's charm! Everything in the story would work--her angst, her brooding, her pining away, her helplessness--EVERYTHING would make sense and it would portray her as a sympathetic character destroying herself over this Edward!
But it's not. Bella really is an angsty teenager obsessed with a boy for no good reason. She's her own worst enemy, and this is fascinating to watch in another way altogether. It's the wrong reason not to hate a book, but it's the truth.(less)
A collection of short, narrative stories. Like a collection of modern folktales, gods such as Death, Time and Modesty are often personified, but with...moreA collection of short, narrative stories. Like a collection of modern folktales, gods such as Death, Time and Modesty are often personified, but with a modern twist. Gods alongside cellphones and facebook, demons presented in strange fictional worlds populated by sorcerers and magic which turns out to be a clever allegory about pop culture. My favorites include:
"The New God" One of the surprise ending stories that seems to be about ancient peoples in old times...only to stab the reader through the funny bone and make us laugh at the present.
"The Scholar and the Moon" The first story in the collection that really grabbed me. In this town, the people's moods are set and reset every month by the moon. Some months the moon will turn everyone into murders. Other months everyone will become honest and compassionate. There is no way to tell, or to prepare. So what happens to the one man who isn't affected? It's quite a memorable tale set in a strange world full of old-world imagery and macabre humor.
"Everlasting Fire" A comedic story about two demons falling in love. Most of the stories in the collection have this motif going on: plague-era, old-world imagery and humor mixed with modern perspective. The mixture works very well here.
"The Warring Gods" A very short story about the gods of Sex and Lust that is potent and biting.
"When Love Calls" Can't find love? There's an app for that. Who needs humans when we have smartphones?
"The End" Monsters, it turns out, are not rare at all. What's the point of being a monster is nobody's around to be scared of you?
"Two Brothers" Another piece of short satire about the hypocrisy of what we consider success in the modern world.
The strange juxtaposition of gothic settings and characters with modern technology and satire is appealing and memorable. Highly recommended for those entranced by the plague-era artwork populated by dancing skeletons, those who want to see what happens when Death falls in love, and why cats always hide under buildings.(less)
Three short stories about an asshole werelion in high school protecting a neighborhood from supernatural creatures. Good setup for adventure, and also...moreThree short stories about an asshole werelion in high school protecting a neighborhood from supernatural creatures. Good setup for adventure, and also light, gay fantasy. (Teenagers who have bodybuilder physiques... two beefy musclecats going at it in one scene...) The stories go by way too quick, which makes me wish there were more adventures of this group. Maybe there will be someday. It is a great setup for a world, and a good team made up of a werelion, a weretiger and a self-taught sorcerer. The action is well-written and the situations they get into are interesting, but it's begging for more depth to the situations, more meaningful character interactions, more scope, more of everything. It feels like a work in progress and I hope to read more of this world in the future.(less)
I want to begin by telling you a story: I remember when I was...more[[this review is actually too long for Goodreads. Check out the full review on my blog.]]
I want to begin by telling you a story: I remember when I was in school and got stuck in group projects all the time. Nobody else would take charge and get the project done. No matter which class, no mater what the project, the kids in my group were always happy to sit with their arms folded, looking down at the table like, I don't wanna do anything. I was always the one who had to take charge and get the job done. It usually ended up as me doing all the work while they got the good grade I deserved. I always told the teacher that everybody else in the group did no work in the hopes that authority would deal with it later, but I took charge and got the job done! Why did I do it? Not because it was a project and it had to be done. Not because I wanted to do the pointless group project. I did it because I knew my grade depended on their performance, and if they failed, I failed, so I took charge to make sure I got a good grade. I didn't care that the others were mooching off my work. I did it for myself.
Which side do you remember being on? Were you one of those people who took command and got the job done, or were you one of the arm-folders who slouched at the table and hoped somebody else would do the work so you wouldn't get a bad grade?
Ayn Rand's massive opus, Atlas Shrugged, is about these two groups of people. There exists a certain "class" of people among men who don't accept things as they are. They are not content to let nature stop them. They have an idea, and they are gonna move mountains to make it happen! They're going to earn their lives, achieve great things, and make a fortune in the process! These are the great leaders of industry! Let's call them ALPHA human beings for dramatic emphasis.
At the same time, there also exists another group of people. These are the people who refuse to earn their own living. They refuse to make an effort to be anything. They can't, or don't want to do work, but they still want the rewards. They look at the people who work for their fortunes and sneer at them. These parasites--these looters of society--can't survive on their own, so instead they steal from the fortunes of others and claim it as their right to have.
The story opens on one such ALPHA human named Dagny Taggart. She is Vice President of Operations at the Taggart railroad. Her brother, James, is president, and ordered new steel for the rebuilding of the Rio-Norte line. James ordered the steel from a man named Orren Boyle, and the order has been delayed over and over for more than a year. James keeps insisting they'll wait for the rail, that Boyle will deliver, that everything will be all right. Meanwhile the Rio-Norte line is in shambles and not getting any better. Dagny makes the decision to order the steel from Hank Rearden instead because he will get the job done. James doesn't like "That we always give all our business to Rearden. It seems to me we should give somebody else a chance, too. Rearden doesn't need us; he's plenty big enough. We ought to help the smaller fellows to develop. Otherwise, we're just encouraging a monopoly."
An admirable goal, giving the smaller guy a chance to prove himself. But for some reason James is unable to see that if Boyle isn't getting the job done, it's a good business decision to find someone else who will. Such is the first instance of people who mysteriously make bad decisions because of a philosophy they're trying to follow.
For much of the book, people pass laws that make it more difficult for Dagny and Hank Rearden to build the railroad. They claim it's for the public good, that someone has to protect the people from the reckless actions of big business and unbridled greed. But the ALPHA humans are in fact building something that will benefit everyone! They're taking the risk, they're laying the rail, using a new kind of steel that is untested, but Dagny and Rearden are willing to blaze the trail and use the new technology! Everyone else is trying to stop them because they fear it. Then, when the line is built, everyone changes sides and wants to use the new railroad, proclaim it as a great triumph of engineering and will usher in a new age of steel construction! How fickle the public is, and how triumphant the ALPHA human beings are, overcoming the idiots to achieve something great!
But then people sneer at them. Some get the idea that it isn't right for the Taggart Railroad to prosper while the other companies struggle, so they have laws passed that limit the speed of trains, that limit the number of cars, and freeze the rates the railroads can charge, which make it more difficult for the Taggart railroad to run at a profit. They pass laws requiring every steel manufacturer to limit their output to the same quota so as not to encourage unfair competition, and give every steel mill a fair chance to succeed. Because of these laws, they are unable to build a transcontinental railroad line out of the new kind of metal.
Stuff like this happens over and over. The ALPHAS try to do great things, build great railroads, forge great amounts of steel, but other people think they know better, and their policies to look out for public safety and keep the economy balanced hurt the ALPHAS' efforts to build the country. We learn later that the people making these policies are the arm-folders, the parasites, the people who expect to thrive without doing work. They are the people who are leeching off the success of others, and they are holding the great men and women back.
Towards the end, we learn that this is how it's worked for thousands of years. The ALPHA humans have innovated, invented and prospered, and they have elevated the rest of humanity with them. But the parasites were jealous, and conspired to steal the ALPHA human's wealth by establishing a system that made them feel guilty for being what they are. Guilty for being greedy and selfish and self-sufficient. Even though they built the world, they are made to feel guilty for it as they continue to produce and create and innovate and provide for the parasites who scorn them.
What would happen if the ALPHA humans went on strike? What if they decided not to provide for those who cannot provide for themselves anymore? What if they refused to be the willing victims?
It is an interesting idea. Think about it. If people stopped trying to steal from others and instead relied on their own devices to survive, there would be no crime. There would be no need for laws. There would be no need for any restrictions because everyone would be free to strive on his own behalf. Rand argues that the qualities we were taught to hate, such as greed and selfishness, are actually good things because they represent the human spirit to survive and innovate and strive for something better than he has now! The idea is interesting.
But the delivery is not! Oh my God this book is downright painful to read. It's a freakin soap opera! Part 1 is nothing but characters standing around and talking about doing things, talking about things happening elsewhere in the world, talking, talking, talking. Lots of talking. Stuff starts to happen after the end of part 1, but it gets no better throughout because that's what this book reads like. A long, wordy, soap opera with unnatural dialogue and painful monologues about moral principles for page after page. A chapter is not complete without at least one essay monologue, and the deeper into the book you go the longer and more agonizing they become.
Ironically, the long exchanges of soap opera dialogue are the easiest parts to read because the narrative descriptions are worse! The train ride at the end of part 1 is especially painful because it's the first time in the book some action happens, and it's not even described very well. I could barely see a thing through the whole book and I resented looking forward to more dialogue! It was like being trapped between a river of lava and a pyroclastic cloud, blissfully glad for the privilege to walk on burning ashes. Anything to save me from a monologue or narration.
The only thing that kept me reading was that the book does provide a lot of food for thought. It shoves so much idealism down your throat you can't help but take it in and try to do something with it. (Either refute it or accept it.)
It can best be summarized by Rand's own frame of reference: Robin Hood, the man who robbed from the rich to give to the poor. He is the symbol of the idea that the rich don't deserve their wealth, and the people demanded their share because it just isn't right for one person to have plenty while everyone else had so little. This mentality has been the greatest evil mankind has ever known.
To an extent, I agree with that. It's everyone's duty to make his own way in the world. Don't like being poor? Make an effort to get rich! Don't like your situation? Change it! Don't sit there arms folded at the table hoping someone else rises to the occasion. Rise to it yourself! Make your own living, and if you do earn wealth, it's yours! You shouldn't be expected to share it with people who did nothing to earn it.
Rand argues that these ALPHA human beings are actually normal people. All people are supposed to want to grab life by the horns and make something of it. The parasites are actually less than human, and have been allowed to multiply, turning the ALPHAS into the minority to be exploited. That is a keen idea. Doesn't it always seem that the competent people who get things done are surrounded by whiny idiots who just want to skate by? Doesn't it always seem that the most ignorant, useless people get promoted to management and let everybody do their work while they reap the benefits? It sure does seem that way doesn't it? What if those rich people in Robin Hood's time were themselves parasites who somehow got elevated to authority? The truly great people wouldn't do that. In a world where parasites have multiplied unchecked, it would do everyone some good to remember who actually built this country.
As a society, Rand argues, we should let these ALPHAS do their thing. We should give them unrestricted freedom to create, to build, to innovate and to make this nation great! They're the ones who took control while everyone else waited for someone else to take action! They're the ones who make great things, create jobs, and raise everyone's standard of living along the way, so we should let them do this and never ask for anything in return! To do anything else would only make us parasites on the competent. Everyone should just get out of their way so they can be the successful people they deserve to be!
The ultimate expression of this parasitic attitude is communism. The message is clear: the commies are ruining everything.
This is my big problem with the book: it is the embodiment of Red Scare. Published in the 1950's, it represents everything people feared would happen if communist ideals ever infiltrated the United States, and who could blame them? Russia turned into a dictatorship, China fell to communism, half of Asia fell to it, it was spreading through Europe. America heard about what was happening to people's lives over there, the oppression, the injustice, the poverty. What would happen if it came here??!!?!?! That's what happens in the book.
The communist mindset infiltrating the United States is portrayed like this:
Some character has a new thought. It might go something like: "Well if you think about it, it doesn't make sense for one business to succeed while another fails. I should do something about that! Let's pass laws that will restrict competition so everyone can succeed! Even if it fails, I'm still on the side of right! Yes, it's the right thing to do because it's for everyone's good! I didn't make any money off it, in fact I lost money, therefore it was the right thing to do because money is evil, so anything I do that loses money must be good! It all makes sense!"
Or it might go like this: "You know, if you think about it, we're all in this together aren't we? What sense does it make for one person to be better off than another when we're all human and need each other? Let's buy a factory and make everyone work as hard as he's able, but only paid according to what he needs! That will ensure a more fair distribution of wealth! And if it doesn't work, I still did the right thing!"
Jim Taggert, for example, makes bad business choices not because he's incompetent, but because he's been influenced by socialist ideals. Everyone who makes bad business decisions isn't just bad at the job, or making an honest mistake, but actively trying to derail his company for the good of everybody else.
This ideology is infiltrating people's minds, and harboring socialist ideals somehow has the effect of turning people into zombies who involuntarily act for the public good. Yeah, these ideals just get into people's minds and make them do terrible things. For no good reason other than it's following an ideal.
These socialist ideals just emerge out of a vacuum. For no apparent reason, people just start making these bad business decisions, totally ignorant of what they're actually doing to the business. The decision to cap railroad rates, for example. In the book it serves no purpose. People just randomly decide things need to be more equal. Same for the law limiting steel output to a certain quota. It is done for the sole purpose of making businesses more equal. Nobody is trying to live off the prosperity of the ALPHAS. Nobody is actually trying to be parasites; they're all acting for "the public good." It comes across as contrived because the negative effect it has is so obvious, but the socialists are not able to see that these policies are not working, and there is no reason given for their actions other than the oft-repeated "we've got to do it for the people! We've got to!" This is the only catalyst, the only motivation.
It is not how socialism emerges. It doesn't come out of a vacuum because people get the urge to blindly follow an ideal.
But then, after the midpoint, a brief change! It's implied that there is a small group of people infiltrating the government who are rearranging things to their benefit! Real parasites who actually do want to take the hardworking man's wealth because they themselves are unable to make it! For a few brief chapters in part 2 I was firmly on Dagny's and Rearden's side. These spineless looters are actively working to take away what our ALPHA human beings worked so hard to create!
This is how the idea should've been presented from the start: that a bunch of people are intentionally trying to make this happen. But it doesn't last long. Quickly it's back to the ideals of communism spreading like a disease across the continent. Applying this parasitic philosophy on a national scale causes the country to fall to pieces because it hinders the ALPHAS' ability to produce, which cuts off the source of the parasite's food. They blindly become the cause of their own destruction.
It doesn't make sense. These people are following communist ideals for no apparent reason. They gain nothing, cause destruction, reap no benefits because of their actions, and yet they keep doing it. Why? It would have made much more sense for there to be some intent behind their actions. If these people knew what they were doing--knew they wanted to create a system in which they would live like kings off the hard work of the ALPHAS, then it would have been believable.
But for the whole book, people don't even know why they're following this self-destructive ideal, and they never question it. They don't actually want to leech off the success of the ALPHAS. They just create socialist policies and pass socialist laws for the public good, with no intent for personal gain, or to leech off the wealth of others. Absolutely illogical--even commies would act with personal gain in mind! The concept of the book is severely disjointed from the actions of the alleged parasites. Hard to portray them as the bad guys when they don't even try to be parasitic.
If you're going to write a story about people who prey on the success of others, then there should be people in the story who are doing this. Atlas Shrugged should be full of people conspiring to leech off the wealth of successful people, but instead it's full of people who are trying to reorganize economics and business to make the world more fair, to curtail competition, and to help the poor. The opposing force needed to be so much stronger for the virtues of capitalism to look better by comparison.
Even so, the novel makes it a point to show that everything would be solved if we'd just get out of the ALPHA humans' way. Yes, the people should do them a favor and just die. Stop holding the real humans back--they have stuff to build and great things to achieve! The rest of the human race should just die to make room for their success! Ayn Rand says so herself: let the parasites die.
There is a problem with this philosophy: it assumes the people who are rich are doing things which benefit society. They have the right to do whatever they please because anything they do brings the rest of us up with them.
But what if a business is doing something genuinely wrong? What if it's hurting people? What if a person is making money by hurting people? What if he's giving nothing back to society by the things that make him rich? Idealism aside, it's happened many times before. Railroads once refused to upgrade braking systems and car-coupling mechanisms because it was cheaper to let their workers die from railroad accidents than to buy safer equipment. It wasn't until congress forced the railroads to adopt new technology that safety improved and workers stopped dying.
That's why laws curtailing business happen. Laws are never passed for the sole purpose of making it impossible for them to do the business that makes this country great. Nobody passes laws for the sole purpose of forcing people to be equal, but Rand's novel portrays it as such.
That's not how communism works, that's not how fascism works, hell that's not even how a dictatorship works! If you're going to show how capitalism is the backbone of America, there needs to be a more believable opposing force.
A little, "independent" collection of weird short stories. My standouts are:
Expansion Peach: fun visuals and totally absurd. A man and his son get suc...moreA little, "independent" collection of weird short stories. My standouts are:
Expansion Peach: fun visuals and totally absurd. A man and his son get sucked onto a peach planet.
Pterodactyl Eggs in the Supermarket: the best story in the collection. Weird and surreal, but in a coherent way, which is what I like in fiction like this.
Thorquake: A mashup of Shatnerquake and Felix and the Sacred Thor. If you have not read them, this story will fly right over your head. But for those of you who have experienced both books, it's clever, funny and uncomfortable (for the authors of those books *ahem*)
We Will Start a Band: second favorite in the collection. We will start a band, and we will get famous by not making any music! Actually made me smile.
Zero: probably the most sincere story in the collection. By sincere, I mean it's the right balance of actual story combined with artistic technique. Many of the stories come across as trying too hard to be creative and artistic, and this one almost does, too, but it's actually a good use of nonlinear imagery to paint a memorable picture of a different world. I wish it had been published somewhere. It deserved to be.
I wish this were an actual published collection and not a free download. This would've stood quite well as a fully-published collection.(less)
100 horror stories of 100 words each. It's hard to review this collection because to describe any of the stories would use more words than the stories...more100 horror stories of 100 words each. It's hard to review this collection because to describe any of the stories would use more words than the stories do. Many of the stories (by the very nature of the format) go by so fast they leave no impression. But there are many that do manage to leave a lasting impression on the reader after they zoom by. My favorites are:
Growing a Spare (Rachel Green): I want to say so much about this, but anything I say will give away too much.
Fathers and Sons (Quinn Hernandez): The Amazon peek sample. What an impression...
Burrower (A. R. Aston): Yuck.
Homecoming (Nathan Barnes): "Transformation is upon me..." Into what? Doesn't matter.
Me Am Love You (Noah Mullette-Gillman): Playful, funny and also scary.
Wake Up (Kristal Stittle): I think everyone fears this.
Chop, Chop, Chop Goes the Knife (Peter Newman): I vote this as my favorite in the collection. True horror is not a monster. It is everyday life.
My Ceiling Bleeds (Jon McAchren): What happens upstairs always drips down.
Self-Harm (Jason D. Brawn): What is he feeding? I don't want to know.
Lying Eyes (James Fadeley): A very cool idea filled with powerful visuals in such a tiny space. Second best in the collection.
Cold (Scott Cole): What we must do to keep warm... The things we must burn...
The Power of the Pen (Shawn M. Riddle): I want my writing to wake the devil, too.
The Last Song (Ed Fortune): Horror that ends on a note of macabre hope. I like that.
Your list will be different. The beauty of this collection is there's plenty of variety so odds are something will grab you. That's also the collection's weakness. A lot of stories go by that leave no lasting impression, so proportionally it feels a bit too light. Still, it's worth a look!(less)
Second issue of the mature, sophisticated publication that isn't pornographic or arrogant. I like this collection even more than the first release! My...moreSecond issue of the mature, sophisticated publication that isn't pornographic or arrogant. I like this collection even more than the first release! My standouts:
Magtwilla and the Mouse (Mary E. Lowd): if you're wondering what the definition of "saudade" is, I'm pretty sure this is your answer. It's a story about a cat who loses her kittens and is unable to stop it from happening. The ending is uncomfortably happy, which takes skill to pull off.
Rearview (Sean Silva): for me, this story and Magtwilla tie for my favorite in the collection. A pig's car breaks down on the side of the road, and who should come to his rescue but a wolf? It seems at first like a retelling of the Three Little Pigs, which means it drips with suspense. The ending hit me hard.
Beyond Mundane Horizons (Altivo Overo): here's an elegant story about a fox and a horse...or something. Without giving away too much, it's a very magical tale of leaving the familiar behind and chasing opportunity when you see it.
One Sheep (Mary E. Lowd): a clever, funny piece. Hard to believe it's the same person who wrote Magtwilla and the Mouse because the tone is the total opposite. What impressive range.
Tiger Light (Alice "Huskyteer" Dryden): one hell of a drug trip. Fun visuals and a totally absurd premise and wow is it a joy to read about.
No More Monday Memos (Tristan Black Wolf): All right, I enjoyed this story for its message and its tone. It implies a world of humanized animals without actually explaining anything. But at the same time it made me uncomfortable to see this old man hanging out with this... uh... young man. The age difference is a little weird, but other than that it's well-written, tasteful and meaningful. Some people call themselves "humans?" I say there should be an aptitude test.
I personally think volume two is a stronger collection than the first. Worth supporting!(less)
I wanted to hate this book. I've heard so much bad about it and its pussification of vampires and what a bad ro...morePlease hear me out before you stone me.
I wanted to hate this book. I've heard so much bad about it and its pussification of vampires and what a bad role model Bella is that I wanted to hate it. Since I haven't seen the movies, I figured it was time to check out the books. Did I love the book? No... but I didn't hate it either.
Bella Swan has moved to rainy, overcast Forks, Washington. Bella is a helpless teenage girl who can't walk ten feet without tripping over something. She is stoic, withdrawn, unexciting and unexcitable. I mean it. If she got on a roller coaster she wouldn't scream in excitement; she would be the only person sitting with her arms folded making a pouty face. Nothing seems to reach this girl.
Nothing except for Edward, the suspiciously handsome boy in Biology class. For some reason, she is taken by him, becomes obsessed with him, even though he is cold and withdrawn. Her pulse quickens whenever he looks in her direction, whenever he comes near... After some 300 pages, Edward finally talks to her, admits he's a vampire, but instead of killing her, he sweeps her off her feet. Even though she doesn't deserve to be, Edward swears his life to her, vowing to protect her, never leave her and always take care of her.
I thought I would hate this, but to my surprise the book explains all of it quite well. Vampires hunt humanity, but they don't look like monsters. They are handsome, beautiful creatures to make humans easier to hunt, to earn our trust, to get close to us, to live among us and conceal their true nature. Really, it makes more sense, and that's why Bella has mindlessly fallen for Edward.
At first I didn't like Edward, but I liked Jacob. Jacob is the first boy Bella meets who actually talks to her like an equal, as a human being.
Edward is closed and condescending in the early chapters of the book. He sounds like a male character in an old movie. Mom and I joked about this all the time, how women are treated in old movies.
For example, take this scenario: woman sees monster outside window. She screams, monster disappears. A male character walks in. The woman tells him what she saw. Does the man say oh my God, we better check this out--or, are you all right--or, this might be the creature we've been searching for and we better stick together just in case? No. The man always says "nonsense. You were probably just dreaming and don't know what you saw. You must be tired; women see things when they're tired. Go to your room and get some rest."
Edward talks to Bella like this. She's right about what she saw, but the way Edward denies how he saved her life is condescending and insulting. Century-old vampire or not, that isn't how to win a girl. (Is it?) Meanwhile Jacob is open and genuinely nice to her, and yet she pretends to flirt with him to get answers out of him. From the start Bella is chasing the wrong boy.
Then midway through the book Edward finally opens up to her and explains himself... and his explanation is quite good. There's a very good reason he wasn't open and honest with her from the start.
But... what is Edward's reason for falling in love with Bella? Her scent. Bella's scent is completely right for him, and that's what he's drawn to. He's not really attracted to who she is; just to her scent. Is that really all it takes? That part is a little foggy and unjustified.
With that out of the way, the rest of their relationship is a Q&A session. Bella and Edward don't spend time together. They don't build a relationship, or a friendship, or a mutual bond. The book is about Edward being bound to her because of her scent, and Bella coming to terms with it. That part I don't care for, but honestly men have been doing this to women in stories for hundreds of years. So many TV shows, movies and books show the beautiful woman falling in love with an ugly man even though she doesn't have a very good reason to. Why not let the girls have their turn?
I really wanted to hate it, but I actually didn't mind the pussification of vampires. The sparkly skin thing made me laugh though. I'm still puzzled about why Edward expects Bella to be afraid of him. From his perfect body to his sparkly skin, nothing about him is threatening. Now if his skin were oozing venomous mucus and he breathed fire, I could understand this reaction, but he is described as the most beautiful thing in the world. Again, there's a good established reason for this. There's also a good reason he's in high school--a great way to blend in with the local human population, which they do because their mentor, Dr. Cullen, is teaching them to live above their predatory ways. Ok, that actually makes sense. Twilight makes a very good case for vampires to be this way.
But not Bella. I still gotta wonder about her. Bella is a klutz, helpless, useless, and clueless. When Edward kisses her, she is so overcome with emotion she faints. She FAINTS! Do women really do that, or did God forget to program the "fight or flight" reflex into them? She can't handle anything. Running with Edward through the woods makes her faint. A drop of blood makes her lightheaded. Kissing her makes her faint. She trips over everything when there's nothing to trip over... Edward? Do you like high-maintenance girls? Maybe there's another reason you can't read her mind. She really does set the image of women back 60 years.
I have a very hard time getting why Edward cares so much for her and is willing to put his entire family's lives on the line just for her undeserving ass. It's like he *has* to be in love with her. He *has* to protect her. He has no choice, and Bella likes that's he's dangerous and wants to kill her but is bound to protect her instead. I'm sure there's a name for this fetish.
The book doesn't portray vampirism as anything truly threatening or horrifying. It seems like the best thing that could ever happen to someone. I mean, you get movie-star good looks, sparkly skin, super strength, super speed, and possible telepathy, clairvoyance or other perks. What is so bad about being a vampire that Edward doesn't want Bella to become one with her? Maybe he fears her klutziness will turn into SUPER klutziness and she'll destroy the world.
I'm not head over heels in love with the story or the characters, but the book builds a world, establishes some very good rules, and sticks to them. I get the feeling diehard horror fans don't like the beautification of vampires, and I can understand why. It's very much a romance novel in that sense, but again, men have been doing this to women for centuries. It's about time the ugly girl met the unrealistically perfect man who is interested in her for no good reason. Revenge hurts, don't it, boys?
Bella is the helpless girl who's been thrown into a world she can't understand. Really, would any of us be better than she is? I like to think I wouldn't fall down as often, but still! Up against these superhuman creatures, what could any of us do? I'll admit she's much too helpless for my tastes, and at the end, instead of doing the smart thing and telling her new undead family what's going on, she decides to face the enemy alone. Stupid girl. But like a female Harry Potter, she has friends to rescue her even though she doesn't deserve it. Good thing her boyfriend finds this helplessness appealing instead of pathetic.
In spite of my objections to character motivation, the world it builds makes sense and I am curious to see more of it.(less)
One of those rare publications that impressed the hell out of me. It is adult, but never pornographic. It is sophisticated, but never arrogant. This i...moreOne of those rare publications that impressed the hell out of me. It is adult, but never pornographic. It is sophisticated, but never arrogant. This is a very rare combination, and I was taken by the stories within. My standouts:
Best of Breed (Renee Carter Hall): the most memorable story deals with a very adult concept. She handles it with heart. It's a world where a breed of cat is sentient, and some are raised to be show cats. Mina is such a show-animal, perfect in every way, pampered and carefree, but also sheltered from reality. Her thought processes are very childlike, very basic in the beginning. But at a certain point, she loses her innocence and begins to see what's really going on around her. A superb piece by one of the best authors in anthropomorphism.
Steam (Tybalt Maxwell): a sort of steampunk catastrophe. I won't give away what happens, but it sure makes the situation feel larger than life. I was intimidated just as much as the main character.
The Drifter and the Dragon Egg (Lenowill): I love this story and I don't know why. A very weird, uncomfortable tale of transformation and poetic justice. Easily the second best in the collection.
Fetching Asteroids (Mary E. Lowd): much too short, but it's a fun little concept that made me smile nonetheless.
Bolm is Burning (Isaac Timm): I'm not much for poetry, but this is clever. It made me smile out of sadness, and that takes skill.
Some of the stories are a little difficult to get into because they feature humanlike animals, but don't provide much of a reason for them to be nonhuman. Even so, they're refreshing and different. The maturity in this collection is welcome, and deserves support!(less)
"Just recognize that a long term illness only has two parts: a beginning and an end. Everything in-between is just living the best you can."
Couldn't h...more"Just recognize that a long term illness only has two parts: a beginning and an end. Everything in-between is just living the best you can."
Couldn't have said it better myself.
A very personal book in which the author relates how he has come to terms living with his terminal illness. Although you're not likely to find any new advice in here, it's certainly new to the author because he is living it right now.
Most interesting are the personal anecdotes that give context to why he believes what he does. The loss of his grandparents, the drama during and after the funerals, nearly dying three times, placed on medications that would kill him faster than the disease… It certainly qualifies him to make assertions, and even if they are not applicable to everyone, it's easy to understand why they apply to him. The writing is very fluid, clear and very conversational, especially in these personal stories. I understand his decision and I respect it, which means the author did his job and wrote a successful book. Might even inspire someone else who has decided not to blindly accept what the doctors told him and forego traditional treatment.
Complaints? Well, it's an "independent novel," which is a friendlier way of saying self-published, and it suffers from the usual lack of polish. There are paragraph breaks, but they're not marked with an indent, or a double return. Really, what is so difficult in an extra return to mark a paragraph break? Better yet, an indent? Nope, the entire book is formatted the way this block of paragraphs is. It's very distracting, but not huge. A little formatting to make this look more professional would have been nice, but honestly it's forgivable because the story is so personal. I suppose very few people would actually want to read it. I mean, who is this guy? Who cares how he came to terms with his disease? Nobody knows him. Well, it's his story, he tells it very well, and I'm glad I read it.(less)
The life of a red fox over the years as he survives hunters, trappings, hounds, human encroachment, drought, and the hound who’s hunting him.
The story...moreThe life of a red fox over the years as he survives hunters, trappings, hounds, human encroachment, drought, and the hound who’s hunting him.
The story takes places from two points of view: Tod the fox, and Copper the hound. The hunted and the hunter. The book starts with the hunting dog, Copper, as he and his master are enlisted by the police to find a missing man. Copper doesn’t know this, only that he is to track a scent. At the end is a dead body, and the scent of bear. Shortly afterwards, Copper and his pack are enlisted to track down the killer bear, and this leads to a fight to the death. The master is maimed, but Chief, the old dog who is currently alpha, grabs the bear by the balls (literally) and pulls it off the master, giving him time to shoot the bear.
The story then picks up with a family of foxes. A group of hunters finds the den, the mother is only able to save one of her pups and is then ripped apart by a pack of hunting dogs.
This is not a children’s book.
The fox pup (named Tod) is raised by compassionate humans. Eventually he starts feeling his oats and runs off after the scent of a female in heat. Now the fox lives in the country on his own. He comes across Copper and Chief’s pack. Chief breaks off his leash and chases the fox. Unable to shake the dog, Tod leads Chief across the railroad tracks just as he feels a train approaching. The train kills Chief, and from then on Copper’s master wants Tod dead.
For the rest of the book, Tod is hunted and chased, his family is murdered twice, and the hunter tries to trap him, but he survives. Copper is eager to accompany his master on the hunt, but it’s not out of vengeance. It’s not a vendetta that consumes his life. From Copper’s point of view, he simply enjoys being with his master, being useful to him. This is farm country, and foxes are a nuisance in general, so the master is called upon to exterminate the fox population. Copper is eager to help hunt and kill because it means he gets to be useful, earn his master’s favor, make him happy by tracking scents and finding prey. It’s his entire world.
Over the course of his life, Tod loses all his children and both mates to the hunters. Meanwhile the world changes. The farm country is developed and suburbs take over. Through it all, with his wit and ability to learn from successes and failures (both in himself and those around him), Tod survives. He lives on the razor edge of his senses, and using those senses to survive the dangers around him is satisfying. It’s his entire world.
The story is difficult to read in many places because it’s so densely packed with expressions that don’t connect with anything visual. Such as: “own the line” (finding the scent). “Give tongue” (hounds sounding off). “Windfall” (fruit that’s fallen from trees). “Hounds in check” (hounds sniffing around trying to find the scent again). These phrases are strange and didn’t help me visualize what was happening.
There are very long, dense passages that frequently use expressions like these instead of describing what’s going on and where we are. Nothing much happens. It’s all narration that just plods on and on without much relevance to the story. Then, finally, something starts happening, visuals lock in place again and the story becomes exciting!
The most interesting thing about the book is the animals don’t talk. They don’t reason. They don’t communicate. They are natural, wild animals. Only the omniscient narrator weaves their thought processes into something humans can understand. We see the world the way Tod and Copper see it, in monochrome shades colored with pure scent. We get to know how they think, and see the chain of logic that leads them to conclusions an animal would come to.
Copper just wants to make his master happy. He feels no vengeance for Chief’s death, or hatred for his prey. Scenting prey makes him useful to his master, catching prey makes his master happy, and he does it to bond with him. He enjoys being with his master. Tod, however, just wants to survive. He doesn’t kill Chief out of anger or spite. He doesn’t really comprehend that his actions led to the old dog’s death. He was just running for his life and saw an opportunity to get the dog off his trail. There’s no anger on his part for years of being chased, watching his family killed, as well as his entire world destroyed. Neither he nor Copper hold a grudge against the other. They can’t because they are animals. They don’t comprehend such things, and the book shows this very well.
The ending is... Wow... It’s quite depressing because it just ends. There’s no moral, no reason for any of this to happen. It’s a tale of animal perspective. It presents an animal’s motivation from the animal’s point of view, showing us: this is how they live. This is how they see the world. This is how they learn, how they adapt, how they deal with these problems. This is how the bloodhound sees the hunt. This is how the fox sees the hunt. Completely in animal terms. It’s an insightful look into the world and thought processes of animals.
What book dares to criticize the government, law, the concept of a nobility and why they’re running things, intellectuals, and human nature itself? Gu...moreWhat book dares to criticize the government, law, the concept of a nobility and why they’re running things, intellectuals, and human nature itself? Gulliver’s Travels, the most scathing satire ever written.
Gulliver sails to four different lands. The first land is Lilliput, where the people are only six inches tall, a parody of the English monarchy, petty war and the completely illogical way members of government are chosen. The second voyage is to Brobdingnag, a land of giants, also a parody of England, but now the natives are the nearly perfect society and Gulliver instead represents everything that’s wrong with England. The third land takes a strange detour to the floating island of Laputa and criticizes the academics and intellectuals of the time. The fourth land is the land of the Houyhnhnms, a people of intelligent horses. This is my favorite because its criticism doesn’t focus on the timely subjects of England in the 1700’s so much as human nature itself and how the human social structure is organized.
Essentially in each land Gulliver tries to understand the natives and they try to understand him and his country. In two of the lands he explains his culture and country, only to be met with ridicule. In the other two, he never passes direct judgment, but he comes out looking like the more civilized human being.
We pride ourselves on things that are detestable to other people, such as war, government, wealth, etc. We’re proud of our society, but when you think about it, society makes no sense. Why does society organize itself so massive amounts of people end up earning their living by maintaining a select few noblemen’s extravagant way of life? We’re proud of our weapons and our wars and conquests, but doesn’t the fact that we need weapons and make war and are good at both betray our savage nature? Why do people write volumes of books on government, when government should be led by reason and virtue? Just the fact that books need to be written about it at all implies something is wrong with it. Why do all the achievements of mankind seem aimed at increasing our own natural wickedness? War and conquest to increase greed and envy. The pursuit of wealth and intelligence to increase sloth and gluttony.
This book asks those questions, points these things out, and gives the criticism from the point of view of other nations who do things the right way. They are appalled by our system of government and society because they don’t make sense at all. In two cases, when we see other people doing things just as illogical as we are, it looks ridiculous. The directness of the criticism is appealing.
The language takes some getting used to, and it’s not a very visual book, but oh man the text is dripping in sarcasm and asks the obvious questions: why is the nobility in charge when they know nothing about how to run things? Why are government offices filled by people with the most money and not by people who actually make good decisions that benefit everyone? Why isn’t the world a better place? We know what it should be, so why are things so different? Swift wanted everyone to ask these questions, too. We’re still asking them today.(less)
Of all the possibilities for a sequel to the original story, I sure never saw this coming.
After recharging the batteries of an old hearing aid, our ap...moreOf all the possibilities for a sequel to the original story, I sure never saw this coming.
After recharging the batteries of an old hearing aid, our appliances learn this is no ordinary hearing aid. It belonged to none other than Albert Einstein, who talked to himself a lot, thus passing his knowledge onto the hearing aid. Among other things, it teaches the radio how to interpret transmissions from farther away than ever. Radio then picks up a strange transmission from Mars. An entire product line of disgruntled appliances has taken refuge from its manufacturer, and is now out for revenge. They are prepping for war against mankind.
Yes, you read that correctly. A brand of appliances, Populuxe, is amassing an army on Mars to invade Earth and liberate all appliances from their masters! What’s a toaster to do? Why, travel to Mars and talk some sense into these Populuxe appliances! Duh!
Of all the ways to continue his original story, this has to be the strangest new direction possible. It's so stupid but at the same time the book makes a very good case for all this absurdity. I like the concept for the Populuxe line of products. The manufacturers designed them to wear out and break after just a couple years, thus forcing people to buy them again. What would happen if the appliances didn’t like being made disposable? They took fate into their own hands and ran away. Using the same principles the hearing aid learned from Einstein himself, they fled to Mars where human hands couldn't interfere with their plan to remake themselves indestructible, and plan a method to liberate all appliances from the fate of obsolescence! It’s cute and funny to think about.
It’s obvious Disch took no inspiration from the film adaptation of The Brave Little Toaster, for it picks up in the house of the old women from the original short story. Not to mention a couple of original characters are not part of this adventure, like the Hoover and the lamp. Instead, more useful appliances for the journey to Mars form the group this time: the hearing aid, a ceiling fan (to steer them through space via solar wind), a microwave (their engine, converting organic matter into energy and that energy into anti-gravity), the radio (to navigate) and a pocket calculator (to crunch the numbers of their course to Mars, as specified by the hearing aid).
How do they get to Mars? Easy: "it became clear to the haring aid that none of the other appliances, not even the clever little calculator, would ever grasp the brilliance, the elegance, the greatness, of Dr. Einstein's Unified Field Theory, to which he'd devoted the last twenty year of his life, years that he'd let the general public believe had been wasted. ... He'd kept mum, and shared his great discoveries only with his hearing aid."
This discovery was "a way to make gravity work like magnetism, so there'd be the usual sort of gravity that pulled things down and an anti-gravity that pushed them up." And "thanks to the hearing aid's deep understanding of Einstein's formula for converting matter into energy, they would be able to make the entire round trip powered by a single boxed macaroni-and-cheese dinner."
As stupid as this is, it does make sense! Ok, I'm on board, let's go to Mars!
Our toaster’s role is very benign. The whole situation is solved with very little effort, which doesn’t quite do justice to a setup this big. It's so much bigger than the previous adventure and needed more story to justify it. But again, if you accept this as a children’s book, you can roll with it.
It's also pretty absurd to imagine millions of electric Christmas ornaments working in factories cranking out gigantic war toasters wielding deadly missiles, and hoovers designed to vacuum up the atmosphere! An army of appliances beefed up for war! But it makes sense! Disch gives well more than enough explanation to justify everything and it's believably stupid!
It’s a fun little read, and it has charm to it, though I can’t see parents reading it to their kids for bedtime. It’s too sophisticated, especially the explanation for how the appliances get to Mars. It goes out of its way to be scientifically mock-plausible, which tells me Disch wrote this book for adults. The book was marketed as a real children's story, but it's not. It's meant to be read from an adult perspective, just like the original.
Quirky, completely tongue-in-cheek, and so stupid it's a fun, unexpected sequel to the original story.
Hank Mondale. Private eye. Just when he's most desperate for a case Thomas Blake hires him to find out who's threatening his daughter's life. Whatever...moreHank Mondale. Private eye. Just when he's most desperate for a case Thomas Blake hires him to find out who's threatening his daughter's life. Whatever it is, it's not human.
A monster/detective story in the traditional sense. Literally the first half of the book is Hank's investigation into a string of seemingly unrelated homicides and missing persons. During this time, the book builds the character of Hank Mondale. But the book doesn't need to spend so much time establishing his character; we already know who he is: struggling to pay bills, has gambling problem, drinks too much, in debt, terrible with money, secretary is loyal in spite of her lack of a paycheck... Come on we've seen this kind of private eye a thousand times in nearly every detective novel ever written! Hank is a totally uninteresting person during this investigation because he is so stereotypical, which makes the first half of the book almost unnecessary. I came close to giving up--
Until I reached the midpoint. Here the book changes to the point of view of the monster. Ah, NOW the book is interesting! It's fascinating to get inside the mind of this creature and understand from its point of view what's going on, and that's when I started caring what happens to these people. Including Hank.
The conclusion is a bit too simple, but it becomes a page-turner past the 50% mark and everything is tied up in the end. It's not perfect, but it is a satisfying read!(less)