It is not just a rehash of the excellent Feed. It deals w/ the fallout form Feed in curious ways, by making the dead...moreA very good 2nd novel in a trilogy.
It is not just a rehash of the excellent Feed. It deals w/ the fallout form Feed in curious ways, by making the dead character a hallucination, Grant does intriguing things that kept me interested.
It did lack some of the urgency or tension of the first one, but that felt like a good decision. First entries in a series must be plot based. This was a shift to being character based. I think I liked dumb-action-stereotype-boy Sean better, but this was definitely a book where the characters develop and that is good.(less)
So I think this book in particular is an excellent response to the current fad of "grimdark" novels. Especially considering the Guardian piece on it t...moreSo I think this book in particular is an excellent response to the current fad of "grimdark" novels. Especially considering the Guardian piece on it that sparked the twitter joke of inventing Grimpink as a female version of this. (tl:dr Grimdark is a boy's club that girls aren't invited to play in. Female authors and publishers disagree w/ this to hilarious effect.)
What sets this aside from other dark fantasies is that the violence and darkness are shown to full effect. There is no cartoon violence. Violence sits at the core of this novel and rots away at the characters. There are no magic cathartic cures, but there are ways of dealing with it and slowly healing.
This isn't a fun novel to read. It's a lot less fun than the boy's-club versions where hitting a bad guy with a sword makes everything better. It does ring true though. I think I understand things relating to cycles of abuse and violence better for reading Hobb's take on them. It wasn't fun, but these aren't fun topics.
Another thing that sets Ship of Destiny and the Liveship Traders series apart is the way that Hobb ruthlessly humanizes her villains. The two characters who do more to cause others pain are not allowed to become cartoonish abstractions of evil. They are made to be flesh and blood human beings. Kyle Haven and Kennit the Pirate are shown to be human beings w/ feelings and positive sides. This really is a triumph, but an uncomfortable one. It is not pleasant to empathize and see one's self in a rapist or in an emotionally abusive and misogynist father. Hobb makes her book human. This is a huge achievement, but again, it isn't fun.
So I think I admire this book and series more than I enjoy it. I think it is definitely required reading for fans of epic fantasy. It belongs in that genre even if it rejects the standard fight-against-embodiment-of-absolute-evil. It belongs because it is a response to the de-humanizing of evil. It does a better job of this than Grimdark novels like Joe Abercrombie's work because instead of simply refusing to make good-evil distinctions, instead it turns the mirror on us and shows us the villain in us. That's an amazing achievement, but not fun at all.
What worked as an episodic narrative in a blog's guise does not work as a novel. Whatever magic part one held is absent here. Completely plot driven w...moreWhat worked as an episodic narrative in a blog's guise does not work as a novel. Whatever magic part one held is absent here. Completely plot driven with static characters. Meh.(less)
This was a fantastic read. I feel a bit stupid for how surprised I am by how much I enjoyed it. I wasn't prepared to like another Zombie book and yet...moreThis was a fantastic read. I feel a bit stupid for how surprised I am by how much I enjoyed it. I wasn't prepared to like another Zombie book and yet I did.
Feed makes great use of setting and characters to tell a story. It is expertly plotted. I did take a star off for what felt like chronological troubles: I kept feeling it contradictions between it being 25 or so years in the future and after a society killing apocalypse how much technology, politics, and the news media are like they are today. This is a minor quibble and the only thing not to like about this excellent book.
I don't read a ton of YA. But this is top notch work. Makes me think I should read more. I was surprised at how good Akata Witch was and now I'm surprised at how good Feed is. I have to imagine there is a body of more YA spec-fic that will continue to surprise me.(less)
I liked this book. I struggled between two or three stars. I enjoyed myself as I read it and laughed quite a bit, but it took me a while to come to te...moreI liked this book. I struggled between two or three stars. I enjoyed myself as I read it and laughed quite a bit, but it took me a while to come to terms with it on the continuum between silly and serious. I didn't quite find Hines' rhythm and didn't know when to expect a slapstick joke or a serious comment.
By the end of the book I learned to trust Hines and he delivered a satisfying read. It isn't particularly challenging but it is capable fluff that will entertain. (less)
This is a very satisfying conclusion to a rather well crafted trilogy. I'm not usually one who sets a lot of store on how a book ends. Books that hing...moreThis is a very satisfying conclusion to a rather well crafted trilogy. I'm not usually one who sets a lot of store on how a book ends. Books that hinge on how the thing ends seem to be wasting the chance to be worth reading on every page. The Spiritwalker series could have ended successfully before the final few chapters w/ Cat keeping her secrets and no one being the wiser. Yet the close and denouement were really cleverly done and wrapped up a lot of plot strings.
I'll be watching Kate Elliott. I was really impressed with this series. (less)
The second volume in this series was even stronger than the first. Where the world building elements seemed to dominate Cold Magic, Cold Steel was cra...moreThe second volume in this series was even stronger than the first. Where the world building elements seemed to dominate Cold Magic, Cold Steel was crafted from romance. Elliot's characters really shine. She took care in the first volume to set up solid foundations so that now we can see their many facets reflect back at us.
I really enjoyed this book. It's style diverges from what I usually read, but that is another gift Kate Elliot has given us. Recommended for those who like a double-helping of romance to go along with their action story. Suggested for those who don't, because you likely will after reading it.
Also, there is a steamy spoiler chapter that fits in between chapters 31 and 32 hosted on her website. Don't miss it.(less)
I picked this up because it was recc'd as "Dresdenesque" if by which one means "pulp genre fic, esp. Urban Fantasy" then yes. It was a decent read. Wo...moreI picked this up because it was recc'd as "Dresdenesque" if by which one means "pulp genre fic, esp. Urban Fantasy" then yes. It was a decent read. Workmanlike with few outstanding flaws. The author appears to have chops and future work has a chance of being quite good.
I also picked this up because on a whim I decided to back Connolly's Kickstarter and I wanted to see what he can do. It's good "Rainy Sunday don't want to go outside" reading. I wouldn't go out of my way to read more, but I'm sure I'll read the rest of the series because there are some solid bones underneath the genre pulp surface.
I'm only really down on it because I picked it up before I started Kate Elliot's series and I have a feeling that she's done much better work.(less)
Really articulate look into a year of grief and mourning. Didion's life is full of possibilities through money and connections that are not available...moreReally articulate look into a year of grief and mourning. Didion's life is full of possibilities through money and connections that are not available to the vast majority of us, but her grief and mourning are universal.
Didion has a sharply honed talent with language and a strict honesty that makes this a treasure of a book. The subject matter is grim but she gives the dark places a stark articulation that it deserves.(less)
A book that was even better than the fabulous Oryx and Crake that preceeded it. The Year of the Flood is a much different book, but it is still amazin...moreA book that was even better than the fabulous Oryx and Crake that preceeded it. The Year of the Flood is a much different book, but it is still amazing. This one focuses more on religion than science, but it still casts back a mirror for us and our society to examine ourselves.
Atwood seems to be writing with absences in this series. In the broken world full of broken people, she does not construct a vision of virtues or what a beautiful life look like. Instead, she uses what is broken about people and society to construct an artwork that is beautiful in and of itself, but also reveals the ideal in its absences, negative space, and between the lines.
I don't know if I'm up to the task of critiquing the craft she employs, so I'll limit this review to just appreciating it. Damn, but that woman can write a novel. Respect.(less)
Seriously considered five stars. I held back, not out of any flaw, but simply to leave room for more transcendant titles at the top of the scale. This...moreSeriously considered five stars. I held back, not out of any flaw, but simply to leave room for more transcendant titles at the top of the scale. This is an excellent sports autobiography. Hamilton is a Nick Carraway to Lance Armstrong's Gatsby (except Armstrong appears less faceted than Fitzgerald's character.)
I was fascinated with the sport when Hamilton was a star. I grew less so after the scandals started, but The Secret Race is an excellent counter to any of the cheap morality tales that people tried to make out of doping. His story is a counter to the idea that dopers are a few bad apples who take short-cuts and cheat honest competitors. The Secret Race really is a moral tale for our age.
This was a fabulous book to read after Epstein's The Sports Gene. I was motivated to do so after reading Malcolm Gladwell's editorial on the two, but I'm amazed at how absolutely thoroughly Gladwell missed the point. The answer to doping is not legalization. That won't create the mythical level playing field, it will just favor those who get more boost out of doping. The answer is in Epstein's work: to make sport participatory again, instead of winner-take-all where fans watch the elite few compete, we all compete and take joy in the effort, not in trying to find the absolute best.
But I digress. The Secret Race is a great read for a fan of recent cycling history. It is as much about Lance Armstrong as it is about Tyler Hamilton and there are no winners in its pages, but it is worth reading. It really is a morality tale for our time.(less)
This was a clearly written and cogent argument for how women can be more successful in business. I found Sandberg to have a clear voice and I enjoyed...moreThis was a clearly written and cogent argument for how women can be more successful in business. I found Sandberg to have a clear voice and I enjoyed this much more than I expected. I think there is a lot to be gleaned from her book, it is full of insight for more people than just women who want to be at the top levels of management. I'm not a woman and I have little desire to manage, but I was captivated.
ALL of the answers to our gender troubles are not contained within. Sandberg has been criticized for focusing on things women can do to improve their lot and this has been seen as blaming the victims. I'm not convinced by this line of reasoning. Sandberg writes what she knows and it is good advice for people to focus on what they can change, not on what is out of their control. Society must change, but individuals can also make strategic decisions. Sandberg does us all a service by focusing on certain kinds of decisions that can lead to more women in positions of power. For that, I am grateful.(less)
I found Epstein's book to be a revelation. It contains a strongly reasoned argument about the impact of genetics on sport that does not pander to tire...moreI found Epstein's book to be a revelation. It contains a strongly reasoned argument about the impact of genetics on sport that does not pander to tired biases. Because there is a long history of horrid biases and some of humanities greatest crimes have been justified based on the alleged genetic superiority or inferiority of certain groups, many scientists have been justifiably leary of writing about the impact of genetics on athletic achievement.
Epstein does so very well. He write from data and he avoids making generalized judgements. I'd like to use his writing style as a primer for undergrads. This is how you write from evidence and avoid writing from conclusions based on that evidence.
It is not a perfect book, but it does so many things so well that it is difficult to fault him for neglecting the impact of performance enhancing drugs on athletic results.
Overall, this is destined to be a classic popular work in sports-science. It could also be sub-titled: how Malcolm Gladwell is wrong and misleading, but Epstein even has the grace to completely show-up Gladwell's arguments without turning this into a personal fight. (Gladwell has made a lot of money off of "10000 hours of practice is all that is needed for success" arguments. Epstein shows what the study this gloss is based on really showed and pointed out its shortcomings. 10000 hours will make anyone better, but it is incontrovertible that some people can benefit more from practice than others.
In any case, if you are at all interested in sport, genetics, or popular writing from research that is done very well, Epstein's book is for you.(less)
This is a history and textual criticism of Islam that does a very good job of explaining what the religion is and how it got to where it is today. There is a ton of insight and excellent information in this book.
Some may be a bit put off by the way the religion is described. Aslan is a historian and a religious scholar. These 'lenses' through which he describes a religion may seem very different than learning about a religion through the personal experience of a believer. At least I've seen this frustration in Christians learning about textual criticism and historical scholarship of their religion. These are the tools of scholars and they do not feel normal to believers who came to a religion through personal experience.
So, as long as one does not expect this book to explain what the subjective experience of being a Muslim feels like, this is a fantastic book that explains to Westerners intricacies of Islam that news reporting and popular culture do not provide.