In my review of the second book of the Magicians trilogy, The Magician King , I may have been a bit harsh.
While I still do not care for Julia and heIn my review of the second book of the Magicians trilogy, The Magician King , I may have been a bit harsh.
While I still do not care for Julia and her backstory and do find fault with the ending of that book, I have resigned myself to more careful consideration of it. To be fair, it is the middle book, and middle books do often have a problem: they don't have true beginnings or endings, and feel like they're meandering.
Finishing the third (and final?) book of the trilogy (cycle?) is what lead me to revise my feelings toward it. Now thirty years old, Quentin Coldwater is a graying former teacher (you'll see why) accepting freelancing jobs for cash. Quentin's story in this novel is a perfect endcap to his previous adventures. He is smarter, calmer, and overall more experienced. He's grown up, and as a 20-something who is starting to notice himself gaining more and more gray hairs, I finally feel I can understand him. This is something we never got from the Hogwarts kids or the Pevensies; growing up. Sure we got an epilogue in The Deathly Hallows, but we never got an adventure with the Potter household.
Quentin's nature reinforces the plot, which admittedly can be thin, but at this point we don't care. Quentin wants one thing: to bring Alice back to the world of the living, and he will stop at nothing. The sheer determination within him is enough to drive the reader forward; we wonder if he'll succeed. Road-blocking this adventure, however, is the issue of an Apocalypse within Fillory. While it all comes together in the end and Janet in particular gets a wonderful backstory, they seem to break up the action too much.
That criticism is small, however. Reaching the end of this series, i'm very glad i've read it from the beginning. I recommend it to every Potter-head like me, and if the more adult tone turns you off, well.... tough.
It is very difficult to write a review of a collection from a man I look up to as a mentor of the craft of writing, so I will simply say this: JohnsonIt is very difficult to write a review of a collection from a man I look up to as a mentor of the craft of writing, so I will simply say this: Johnson occupies a permanent home on my shelf next to Carver and Hemingway, all masters of the psyche of the Average Joe....more
When it comes to crime novels I generally look to Lehane, and so the first book left me a bit parched. I didn't have a ton of empathy for the victim aWhen it comes to crime novels I generally look to Lehane, and so the first book left me a bit parched. I didn't have a ton of empathy for the victim and the interrogation scenes seemed to plod along clumsily.
I'm happy to say that both of those issues have been resolved with The Silkworm; conversations feel a bit more animated and the murder itself is especially interesting. A trait in Rowling's work is that she likes to connect everything; the smallest bit of information often comes back in the end. The murder she's contrived appeals to that particular strength and you genuinely wonder what's going on because of the particularly macabre nature of the murder. In terms of out main characters, Strike remains interestingly flawed while Robin manages to evolve a bit beyond the Mary Sue sidekick she was in the first novel.
It has its flaws, but they do not detract much. The character of Nina, brought in for plot purposes as well as to give relief to Strike, gets more or less pushed aside with almost no resolution. Additionally, and I admit it is a personal gripe, is that Rowling's quotes from Webster and Johnson, as appropriate as they are, seem a little showboat-y and out of place in a detective novel. I understand that she knows her classical literature (just look up the once-appearing Harry Potter character Mulciber's origins for evidence of such), but it's still a little showboat-y.
All that said, it's a fair read for any mystery fan I would say. Rowling fans won't be disappointed either, but that feels obvious. I'm looking forward to the eventual Cormoran Strike #3. ...more
**spoiler alert** Picking this apart, I don't think it deserves five stars.
Maybe four; certainly no less than three. I've come to this conclusion bec**spoiler alert** Picking this apart, I don't think it deserves five stars.
Maybe four; certainly no less than three. I've come to this conclusion because for the most part this is a story we've heard before in Anne Frank's diary or Lois Lowry's Number the Stars (as a few examples). It's an important story of course, but one i'm getting a bit too used to. Even though the focus is changed to a young German girl from the traditional Jewish perspective, we know how to react to this story. War is hell, and bad things are going to happen.
However, one aspect puts it up to five stars, and that is the narrator.
Death is, as in life, both intimidating and gentle. The storytelling approach is wonderfully impressive and saves The Book Thief from being just another young-adult WWII novel featuring a young girl undergoing hardships. The narration and prose is spectacular, and i'm certainly happy I gave it a shot. ...more
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who has, before your meeting, built up something very important that they want to tell you but theyHave you ever been in a conversation with someone who has, before your meeting, built up something very important that they want to tell you but they constantly get sidetracked, and so you're just sitting there thinking "just tell me!"
That is this novel in a nutshell. As negative as that sounds, it actually works well. Ishiguro drops hints constantly as to what is really going on in the novel but always comes back to Kath's stories of Ruth, Tommy, and her time at Hailsham. This structure, which is very tightly contained, keeps you... well, frustrated. But, it's that certain special kind of frustration that you get when you're sitting on the edge of your seat for the last five minutes of a dramatic television show and you see that horrible phrase: "To be continued".
I'm being a bit vague. I haven't mentioned much about the story at all, the characters, or anything else. That is purposeful. This is not a book you look up a review of first. It's one you let suck you in with little expectations going into it. So far, all you've learned is that there are three characters, there's a place called Hailsham, and there's something else going on.
When I read The Giver in fifth grade, I was spellbound. At an age where "age-appropriate" (because my skill level was never taken into consideration iWhen I read The Giver in fifth grade, I was spellbound. At an age where "age-appropriate" (because my skill level was never taken into consideration in my school, despite being high above average) reading materials boiled down to either Boxcar Children or The Hardy Boys, the bleak almost dystopian society within The Giver sparked my imagination beyond what I thought possible. It is because of that book that I read to this day, and even now it is still a fascinating read.
Many years later, I am now twenty-three years old and have finished the fourth (and as far as I know, last) book of the Giver cycle, Son. It has been about two years since my last trip into The Giver, and it was refreshing to step back into the society I knew so well. And like clockwork, the old horrors returned and I was once again nine years old clutching the book and voraciously reading.
Lowry's choice to bridge the other three novels in the cycle with Son was a bold one, but one that in the end pays off well. Without spoilers, it's hard to think about what to say. Lowry's society is as vivid as it ever was and her prose is simple and understandable. The second part of the novel, Between, reminds me of something Yukio Mishima would write. The only blemish I can find is an ending that feels... rushed. It's quite unfulfilling.
I didn't expect to get The Giver 2.0, and I didn't get that. What I got was a later sequel to an original that needed no sequel but the companion Gathering Blue. If i'm being vague I apologize; this really isn't something I can put down into words very well. There's too much history there.
If you never have, read the series. At least, read The Giver. Give it to your kids. We need Lowry. Young-adult/ children's lit wouldn't be half as respectable without her. ...more
I made the choice when I started Inferno to not add it to my currently-reading list; Dan Brown is pretty heavily lauded in many circles, and I chose tI made the choice when I started Inferno to not add it to my currently-reading list; Dan Brown is pretty heavily lauded in many circles, and I chose to hide that I was reading this despite very much enjoying Angels & Demons. Unlike many, I don't have much of a problem with Brown; at the end of the day he writes basic thrillers and that's about it.
All that said: i'm glad I kept this a secret.
Inferno is a marvel. I didn't know that something this inconsistent, forced, and shallow could even get past an editor or a peer. Brown strikes out in almost every field; his action-movie prose becomes the equivalent of baby talk and left me saying "What? That doesn't make any sense!". The Dante references are handled poorly at best and the "twist" isn't even a twist. He explores human morality as if he was a surgeon wearing hulk-hands, sacrificing precision for ham-fisted pretention. Hulk smash!
I found Rowling's previous book, The Casual Vacancy, to be positively rife with unlikeable, uncharismatic characters awash in a plot that revolved aroI found Rowling's previous book, The Casual Vacancy, to be positively rife with unlikeable, uncharismatic characters awash in a plot that revolved around petty squabbles and gossip. I'll be the first to admit that ulikable characters don't make a book bad, but they certainly don't make the experience pleasant.
Naturally, I was expecting better from Cuckoo's Calling, and I got my wish. The mystery is basic, but even a basic mystery can be interesting. Cormoran is rendered immediately interesting and it's him that drives the entire story forward.
Unfortunately, Cormoran feels like the sole pillar. Robin herself feels very uninspired, and it takes over three-fourths of the novel for events to ramp up with any sort of excitement. Rowling's prose doesn't feel effective in telling a detective story; she's often too detail-oriented to keep the plot moving. Considering that most of the novel is interrogation/ information-gathering scenes with witnesses/ family/ friends, this completely stalls any sense of momentum the novel has. It was hard enough to sympathize with a celebrity death, and the pace didn't help.
Overall, a decent entry that hopefully goes up from here if others are written, as is the tradition for detective fiction.