My 'big brain' couldn't really get into this one. It didn't have the shock of Slaughter House Five nor the humour of some of the other Vonnegurt stori...moreMy 'big brain' couldn't really get into this one. It didn't have the shock of Slaughter House Five nor the humour of some of the other Vonnegurt stories. But still had some great moments especially towards the end.(less)
**spoiler alert** Couldn't finish this one. The writing is too awful. From the very beginning I didn't like the set up. I had hoped from the earlier b...more**spoiler alert** Couldn't finish this one. The writing is too awful. From the very beginning I didn't like the set up. I had hoped from the earlier books that Katniss would lead a band of rebels to take on the Capital and that group might develop some kind of alternative philosophy of hope and sanity. But oh no, Suzanne Collins has other ideas.
A little time has passed since the end of the second book and Katniss and co have been dumped in another dystopian regime – the regime of District 13 which is trying to overthrow the Capital. This is strange because District 13 has exactly the same mindless sociopathic philosophy as the Capital, just with a slight more communist flavour. There's all out war in the districts with both sides bombing and killing each other, but Katniss is not involved in any of this, instead she sits about in grey rooms, on the edges, while people come in and give reports on the fighting to Plutarch Havensbee (who for some reason I can only imagine played in the movie by Eugene Levy in a toga). All the war and bloody action is mediated through TV or expositon and then through Katniss's consciousness making it totally boring and removed for the reader. Plutarch and the E-fashion rebels come up with a plan to overthrow the capital by making over Katniss and putting her in TV promos. So once again we get the obligatory makeover scenes and the micromanaged obsession with her behaviour etc. Also, once again, we get the obligatory food-blog description of every meal, even though in District 13 only eat variations of slop. There's some attempt to give depth to the trauma of Hunger Games survivors and the suffering civilians of the districts but all this occurs in the same scenes as dialogue clunkers such as: "You don't impress us we've seen Finnick O'dair in his under ware!" Meanwhile Katniss worries about whether they got a good take of her promo, while behind her the Children's hospital burns down. Eventually the total disconnect of every character from what is going on around them made me give up and throw the book across the room.(less)
**spoiler alert** A very strange opener where President Snow visits Katniss to meddle in her love life (as if this is his biggest worry in his preside...more**spoiler alert** A very strange opener where President Snow visits Katniss to meddle in her love life (as if this is his biggest worry in his presidential world) gives way to Katniss and Peeta at home and on tour and then to a rehash of the first book, where they must return to the Hunger Games and consequently go through the same steps all over again in the preamble to entering the arena. I skipped the makeover chapters, which were bad enough in the first book and which I wrongly thought would not be repeated in the rest of the series!
But once scenarios start to repeat, and the lead characters fail to develop, the strange quirks of the world from book one - the fact that everyone is an insane sociopath, with no anchor to reality – become more and more obviously the strange quirk of Collins writing style. People are murdered maimed and tortured and all Katniss obsesses about is what's on the menu for dinner or what outfit she'll wear or whether to wax or how she's coming across on television. All the characters around her micro monitor her behaviour and act as if this is somehow the cause of all the murder and mayhem and not the fact that they all live in a facist dictatorship. No one has any kind of life away from Katniss, everything they do or say relates to her directly and every single thing that happens in the book is mediated through Katniss's consciousness gives everything a delusional schizophrenic quality. Characters, even those who turn out to be rebels, obsess about conforming and I think what I'm trying to say is that no philosophy of dissent and rebellion is given a good airing in the book,
The Truman show ending where Katniss uses her skill to break out of the Hunger Games with the help of her team is great but this is undercut by a terrible Deus Ex Machina which takes the responsibility for the rebellion away from Katniss and gives it to someone with the comedy name of Plutarch Havensbee who is suddenly the manipulator of her actions. All of this doesn't bode well for the third one. (less)
The Knife of Never Letting Go is a YA novels set in a dystopian future on a Earth-like planet called New World, where people constantly hear each othe...moreThe Knife of Never Letting Go is a YA novels set in a dystopian future on a Earth-like planet called New World, where people constantly hear each others thoughts. The narrator Todd Hewitt is a settler (his family came from Earth on a spaceship) and he lives in Prentiss Town a tiny outpost with his talking dog Manchee (all the animals on New Earth can talk!) One day, while walking in the woods Todd discovers a patch of silence and so begins a journey that sends him running from his home and everything he once thought true.
I really enjoyed this book despite the problems with the story and characters. Many of these have been mentioned in other reviews and come from the complex rules of New Earth or the pop-up quality of the villains, but some of them are issues which could have been fixed. (view spoiler)[Like how do the Prentiss Town folk have all that ammo for a war when they have been 10 years on their own? Or how is their no access to the outside world when at the beginning there is a mention of fissionbike transport? (hide spoiler)]
The best thing about the book is Manchee the talking dog. The second best thing is the way the characters read each others minds. The different fonts for people's thoughts and the way Todd would think something in his narration and the character he was talking to would suddenly comment on this in the next paragraph, worked really well. That said, this clever idea undermined the credibility of the reveals and made them problematic, because if everyone knows everything about everyone, how can there be any secrets?
The other odd thing about Todd's present tense narration was the mixed up style of it. He uses simple language and odd misspelled words because he's uneducated but he also thinks and reasons like a modern teenager and even occasionally address the reader directly, with little asides, which doesn't sit well with the idea that other characters can read thoughts in his narration.
The plot is a real adrenaline pumping page turner and the themes reminded me of both Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban and also of the Chrysalids by John Wyndham, two of my favourite dystopian fantasy books about young people, but both with much more depth to them than this book, which gets very predictable and repetitive in the second half.
After all the horror movie shocks every three pages, all the running and fighting, I wanted some kind of meaning and development to it all. I didn't really get from the ending, and I'm not sure the second book is going to give it either, but maybe this is the problem with serials.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Eleven year old orphan, Silver Rivers, and her uncaring Aunt, Mrs Rokabye, live at Tanglewreck a run down country house that once belonged to Silver's...moreEleven year old orphan, Silver Rivers, and her uncaring Aunt, Mrs Rokabye, live at Tanglewreck a run down country house that once belonged to Silver's father. In nearby London time tornadoes are sweeping the city, dragging people into the past and throwing the past into the present. Only one thing can stop the disintegration of time: the Timekeeper, an ancient broken clock that was once owned by Silver's father. Silver must find the clock and repair it before it is discovered by the villainous Abel Darkwater and Regalia Mason who plan to steal the clock and control time itself.
I had mixed feelings about this first children's novel by Jeanette Winterson but if I was a child I think I would love it. It starts off nicely with the Dickensian Mrs Rokabye giving Silver the Cinderella treatment. Mrs Rokabye is a character Jeanette knows well, another version of the legendary Mrs Winterson. Abel Darkwater is also an intriguing villain. He owns a watch shop in Spitalfields (probably right next door to Jeanette's own shop!) and Silver visits him there and is hypnotised. The first half of the book also introduces a group of underground mole-like people and a lot of intriguing story ideas around the time tornadoes ( ideas that are sadly never returned to).
In the second half of the book the fantasy and sci-fi landscapes and tropes really kick in and the relentless fast pace and the lack of descriptions of anything, particularly the sci-fi world, started to annoy me. Contrasting this, there is quite a lot of talk about quantum physics, time travel, and the real Schrodinger's Cat - Dinger - even puts in an appearance! All this and a bunch of Popes in space (how do those things go together?) made it come across like a mixture of His Dark Materials, Neverwhere, and a Doctor Who episode.(less)
Thailand, some time in the future. In a world of unrest, pollution and disease, water is scarce. Calorie Corporations control the food supply and exer...moreThailand, some time in the future. In a world of unrest, pollution and disease, water is scarce. Calorie Corporations control the food supply and exert political influence over governments. Genetically created crops, animals and New People (or windups) are a reality and there's old and new technology - click springs, airships and gas devices, but there's also a lack of oil, and consequently no computers, combustion engines, or electricity.
Anderson Lake, a Calorie Man from AgriGen, has come to Bangkok in search of a mysterious gene hacker called Gibson who's creating illegal fruit and vegetables for the Thai Government that may be immune to disease. In a sex club he meets Emiko, a raped and abused windup girl from Japan. She wants to escape the city, but cannot. Windups are illegal in Thailand and she would be destroyed if the authorities ever found her. Through selfish motives, Anderson helps her out and they both become pawns in a military coup that is about to sweep through the country.
I listened to the audiobook version, which was probably a mistake, I think you really need to have the paperback so you can flick back and forth to work out what the hell is going on.The plot is very complicated (much more so than the synoposis suggest) and follows the machinations of at least ten or fifteen characters. It was hard to remember who was who and what they had been doing previously. I was disappointed that so little of the book revolved around Emiko, who was by far the most interesting character. Her story arc was also very slow to get going, but when it did, in the second half of the book, it was riveting, and I wish this had been more of the main thrust of the story. Apart from Anderson and Emiko I never really felt I got that close to the rest of the characters, although the world they inhabit is amazingly detailed and thoughtfully constructed. The East-meets-stempunk-meets-genetics theme reminded me of 'The Diamond Age' by Neal Stephenson, which I think, on balance, I preferred. Although both books seem to reach the thrust of the action a little late in the day. (less)
**spoiler alert** Collins has created a compelling and exciting story, that gripped me from start to finish. The writing is not great there's bad gram...more**spoiler alert** Collins has created a compelling and exciting story, that gripped me from start to finish. The writing is not great there's bad grammar and sentences but once I got into the story I tended not to notice the errors as much. The worst thing about the writing is the way that everything is mediated through Katniss's boring consciousness, nothing happens without her witness and commentary and because of this I think the film works much better. It's one of the few times where I can honestly say I prefer the film to the book. Jennifer Laurence gives a great performance and from the film's third person outside view Katniss's thoughts on her situation are much more up to us to interpret. Also some of the stupider moments of the book were dropped from the film. The wolves with the personalities/souls/clones/ of the contestants was one of the weirder moments of the book that the film didn't go with.
The secondary characters are a bit flat but both Katniss and Peeta are likeable and admirable leads and there are some very good scenes between them. Having seen the film first I wonder how much the performances of the actors coloured my view of things, because there is very little detail in the writing of gesture or appearance or setting and as the series went on without the visual memory of the film the writing in the later books struggled to evoke any sense of place for me.
The weirdness of the setup of Katniss 'pretending' to fall in love with Peeta and her worry about everyone else watching them on invisible cameras and judging them etc made me think the twist at the end was the whole thing would somehow be her schizophrenic fantasy, but it didn't quite turn out that way.(less)
John Smith is a teenage boy in high school and also an alien. He is Number 4, a Loric from the planet Lorien, whose people are eco warriors (like the...moreJohn Smith is a teenage boy in high school and also an alien. He is Number 4, a Loric from the planet Lorien, whose people are eco warriors (like the Lorien elves in LOTR). His planet was attacked by the evil Mogadorians from Mogadon (like the clinical drug and heavy sedative?!) and he and eight other children, along with their guardians, were forced to come to earth and go on the run disguised as humans. While they wait for puberty to kick in and their magic powers to develop they are being systematical hunted and killed in numerical order by the Mogadorians.
This is a young adult science-fiction fantasy set in and around a high school – with all the cliches that entails. Its hero is an alien boy in that fairytale sense where, like in Star Wars or Smallville, he is in every way a human teenager, but with magic powers. This is important because there is the whole high school story line to negotiate, where he makes friends with the geek-outsider, beats the jock-bully and gets the pretty-girlfriend (–who's one character trait is that she builds a cat sanctuary!). I couldn't help but feel if the alien-boy had a tiny bit more cultural and physical difficulty fitting in, rather than just the usual teenage issues and the matter-of-fact magic, it would have made him a more interesting character.
The book is well plotted and mixes between the alien and the high school story lines with some skill, but parts of the story and dialogue are very cliched. The way characters react to the fact that their friend is an alien with magic powers and a load of other aliens have just rocked up to try and kill him is also highly unbelievable. There is some terrible writing and copy editing in parts of the action, which means I sometimes got a little confused. Also, the rules for the magic are a tad nonsensical and towards the end the author even seemed to add in a few new rules just when he needed them. Or, just as bad, he will spend ages clunkingly setting up a magical skill or twist just to use it in one sequence. But if those kind of things don't annoy you too much and you can suspend your disbelief then its a fun trashy-read with lots of exciting action sequences. I think teenagers would love it.
It's around 2050 in the Shanghai region of China. Different tribes of peoples live on artificial islands in the bay outside the city. In the prosperou...moreIt's around 2050 in the Shanghai region of China. Different tribes of peoples live on artificial islands in the bay outside the city. In the prosperous community of the Neo-Victorians a nano technology engineer named John Hacksworth takes on a commission to create a book - 'The Young Ladies Illustrated Primer.' The book is an ever changing story, an AI device that teaches young ladies to be maverick individuals. Nell, a young Dickensian heroine from a broken home in the modern projects receives one of only three copies of the book when her delinquent brother steals it from John Hacksworth. It gradually becomes her surrogate parent and sets her life on a new path.
Once I got into this book I was actually really addictive and I read it in about three days. The story is very immersive and intriguing and the character of Nell and her growth and change through the story is handled very well. I like the idea of a pocket of (Neo) Victorian Society with those morals and concerns that is surrounded on all sides by a crazy chaotic Bladerunner world. (The concept throws up echoes of Colonialism, which could've been explored more in the story). I also love the idea of a book within a book, which gives the author a chance to go into a whole other fairytale hero's journey, reminiscent of YA stories.
The theme of the book seems to be 'order vs chaos.' Order being Victorian Values and controlled mechanics and digital binary information, and traditional communication. Chaos being modern Shanghai, the slums, the drummers, the hippie orgies and the possibility of a sort of psychic internet?
There is too much of Hacksworth in the second half of the book and maybe not enough of development for Nell in the real world. The ending is a bit sudden, just as the story is about to go off into a new interesting direction.(less)
I really liked it. I was expecting the tone to be very similar to Blade Runner, which I love, but it has a little bit of Kurt Vonnegut weirdness to it...moreI really liked it. I was expecting the tone to be very similar to Blade Runner, which I love, but it has a little bit of Kurt Vonnegut weirdness to it, what with the sheep and the goats and the strange religion and TV show. Then the main plot is as it is in the movie, very straightforward noir. I think here it is slightly more convoluted and having read the Blade Runner script I prefer the plot in that as it is more streamlined. I did love the style of Dick's writing and the way his story unlike the film afforded more interior for the characters and thus a little bit more of a humanity to them all. The movie always seems rather cold in that respect. I found it an easy and gripping read and read it in a couple of sitting. Over all really good.(less)