I figured since I'd already listened to Big Finish's 50th Anniversary Doctor Who episode and watched the show's one, that I may as well try one of theI figured since I'd already listened to Big Finish's 50th Anniversary Doctor Who episode and watched the show's one, that I may as well try one of the 50th book collections. I have no idea if there's more than one of these, I was just assuming that this wasn't the only one. This is a collection of novelettes written by various young adult writers. Hiring young adult writers to write for Doctor Who makes perfect sense to me since it is a family show, but the problem is that either the writers are mostly awful or they are really not trying because these range from decent to awful. Also there is a strange focus on New Doctor Who in some of the classic Doctor stories. In case the title didn't give it away, this collection has one story for each of the eleven Doctors each written by a different writer.
I was going to review these story by story but it just turned into me saying that each one was bland and dull and I realized that now I was being bland and dull. My favourites were the stories about the 5th and 11th Doctors which is to say that they were fairly enjoyable and well written but hardly that special. My least favourite were the stories about the 1st and 10th Doctors, mostly because they both got the characters so wrong. The first Doctor story felt to me like Eoin Colfer was fairly unaware of the first Doctor (He even references Harry Potter at one point. The first Doctor references pop culture. That's just wrong.), and the tenth Doctor story felt like a parody of Tennant's Doctor. The rest of the stories were fairly unmemorable and full of fanservicey references. The Eighth Doctor story had a strange reference to the infamous half human line, I say it's strange because I don't understand why someone would reference that. It would be like making the 6th Doctor say he likes to strangle companions (he doesn't do that; I'm just saying it would be bizarre).
It is possible to write a good story based on a TV show, but unfortunately the people who try are clearly just doing it as an easy job. It becomes very clear very quickly that no one writing here (except possibly Gaiman) really cared much about the project. ...more
The Man Who Could Not Shudder is about a group of friends and associates who hear about a haunted house and decide to spend a weekend there. Of coursThe Man Who Could Not Shudder is about a group of friends and associates who hear about a haunted house and decide to spend a weekend there. Of course someone swiftly dies in a way that is not immediately explainable and no one is sure what to make of it. Soon Dr. Gideon Fell (a man very clearly based off of G.K. Chesterton) arrives and investigates the mystery.
This is a fairly basic mystery set up but it is very well set up. The strength of novel is how intelligent and well thought out the central mystery is. The case is clever, unpredictable, and actually makes sense.
The problem is that the characters are only as interesting as they have to be. They feel like stock characters although they work well enough for the show's purposes. The exception is Fell who is a fairly interesting character, but that's probably because he's based off G.K. Chesterton.
This is alright though, since the book does what it's supposed to do. It's an entertaining story with a good mystery with characters with just as much character as they have to have. Overall I quite liked it. ...more
Not really game changing or anything but pretty good. I think that the Superman movies should try to be more like this. Its bright and optimistic evenNot really game changing or anything but pretty good. I think that the Superman movies should try to be more like this. Its bright and optimistic even when it does portray less optimistic things. Its cheerful and fun. The only problem I really had was that the second chapter felt really separate from the rest of it. It really broke the flow and could have been skipped without noticing. Also Parasite's presence wasn't really necessary. ...more
I first read this book when I was in high school and it sparked an interest in comics. So in that way I am very fond of it. But it is also a very goodI first read this book when I was in high school and it sparked an interest in comics. So in that way I am very fond of it. But it is also a very good comic. Its a lot of fun. Marvel 1602 is a world in which the Marvel universe started early and it surprisingly works really well. Now this Silver Age Marvel, so people like Wolverine won't show up. I only mention this because a lot of people on here complained about the lack of Wolverine, and there was a reason for this.
Gaiman does a good job of introducing the characters and setting in such a way that it works as a plain good story, but is also filled with tons of little Elizabethan and Marvel references for those who get them. The story is entertaining and exciting, and a lot more fun than a lot of the stuff Marvel publishes these days.
The other complaint I noticed was that people didn't want Gaiman to explain why this was all happening. Personally, I liked that he did and thought it suited the story well, but I think this comes down to personal preference.
This is not a criticism of deconstruction of the Marvel Universe. This, like the Avengers movie, is earnest, and unapologetic for its source material. It feels like a classic Marvel story because it is a classic Marvel story, and that's part of what makes it so good. ...more
Well written, interesting, and really entertaining. Lauren Beukes used a fairly interesting premise in order to make a hard boiled detective type storWell written, interesting, and really entertaining. Lauren Beukes used a fairly interesting premise in order to make a hard boiled detective type story into a more interesting and bizarre tale. I don't really have a lot to say about this one except that it was very a entertaining, fun story with a strong protagonist. The city and the world in which this takes place are weird, gritty, and mysterious, and the occasional interludes in the form of movie reviews and newspaper articles help to expand the world. The animals are a concept that could have easily seemed too cute and cartoony but Beukes writes them skillfully enough that they are an asset to the story rather than a problem. Overal its a really interesting, entertaining read....more
I haven't been reading much lately and all the books I started over the last couple months really suffered for that. This one I read really slowly, whI haven't been reading much lately and all the books I started over the last couple months really suffered for that. This one I read really slowly, which was alright since it is a short story collection. I never really know what to say about short story collections. It was an entertaining, clever, books with a clear fun voice. I didn't enjoy it as much as Swamplandia! but it was her first work and was fairly impressive considering. I never really know what to say about short story collections, aside from reviewing every story which I don't really feel like doing. I would say that I didn't particularly dislike any story, and found them all enjoyable. ...more
The more I think about this book the less I like it. I honestly thought the conclusion of this series would elevate the previous mediocre books and maThe more I think about this book the less I like it. I honestly thought the conclusion of this series would elevate the previous mediocre books and make the whole trilogy better but I suppose that was naive on my part. The problem with Monsters of Men is that it is preachy, and not just in that its message is not subtle, but rather the characters will often directly lecture the reader on its themes. The themes themselves start to entirely overtake the narrative to the point where the book feels as though it has to pause so we can learn more about the evils of war, or how shocking it is that Todd is learning to control his noise.
The author tries to set up a morally ambiguous situation concerning how one should deal with one's noise (all males on this planet project thoughts telepathically for the world to hear), but it becomes all too clear which side the author thinks is right. One character thinks that the thoughts should be controlled, while another thinks they should be set free so that all people's thoughts are freely broadcasted and we all start to merge together. The problem is that the first point of view is that of the misogynistic villain, while the second belongs to the messianic self sacrificing adoptive father. It quickly becomes implied that to control one's noise is akin to lying. But that's saying that privacy is the same as lying, and suddenly the whole message starts to bother me a lot.
The native aliens are now shown in more detail as well and the author fails at this as well. Its extremely difficult to write a collective alien consciousness well and it really doesn't work here. They seemed sort of like First Nations stereotyping to me, rather than a convincingly alien species. It also bothered me that the excuse the villains used in the first book for killing all the women (Women don't have noise because they hide it and are deceptive naturally) turned out to be true. The author didn't excuse the genocidal actions but having women be naturally deceptive seems like a surprisingly sexist move..
I did like the Mayor and found him to be a very compelling villain, he reminded of Long John Silver in that he is a character who is easy to like and yet has almost no redeeming qualities. Unfortunately the author turns the mayor into a parody of himself in the book's climax. Dispite this I found him fascinating, and Mistress Coyle was interesting as well. But most of the rest of the characters were not. I failed to see Todd, Viola, and the Return's significance in this book, except for being told constantly that they are. Todd for example is the boy who cannot kill, yet he kills more than once in this series and those events are mostly ignored.
I really wanted to like it but the problems in its narrative, as well as the unfortunate implications in its message made it difficult to like. ...more
Modern fantasy often is set up so that the world that we know seems to have been invaded by the supernatural, even if they were always there. Neil GaiModern fantasy often is set up so that the world that we know seems to have been invaded by the supernatural, even if they were always there. Neil Gaiman has a talent for making it seem as though this is just how the world had always been and I had simply forgotten. His books merge the real world and the fantastical in such a way that it often just seems normal, as though I always believed in monsters and ghosts and living ideas and had just needed reminding of this remarkable fact. The Ocean at the End of the Lane does this to even greater effect than his past books have, and I think its partially because the book deals so much with childhood and memory.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane was said by Gaiman to be his most personal book he had ever written and it shows. The novel is Gaiman's first, that I know of, to be written in first person and tells the story of an unnamed protagonist remembering a remarkable and terrifying time in his childhood. The protagonist is a thinly veiled version of Gaiman himself which in this case helped add a personal, nostalgic, and sad atmosphere to a simple story. The novel deals with themes of memory and understanding as the protagonist not only recounts his past but discusses his thoughts about it and comments on his understanding comparatively between when he was a child and now. It feels so convincingly like someone recollecting about his childhood that it becomes all the easier to be involved in the frightening scenes.
I think Gaiman understands childhood better than many, which is probably why he is better at writing children's novels. This is not a children's novel but is very much a novel about childhood, and in that way it succeeds better than most. Childhood is a time filled with adventure, discovery, and wonder, but there is also a terror and confusion that are a part of childhood as well, which I think people often cut out in some misguided attempt to sanitize. Gaiman often quotes G.K. Chesterton's Red Angel (which can be found in his great collection of essays Tremendous Trifles) in which Chesterton says that children will dream up all kinds of horror and it is the purpose of the fairy tale to give them a hero to combat that horror. There is a certain terror that seems present in childhood as well as a wonder and I think Neil Gaiman understands that greatly. I think in many ways Gaiman never grew up, which is not meant as an insult. He can write effective and accurate stories about children because he still feels greatly like a child, and I think that the narrator of Ocean at the End of the Lane would agree that that is true for himself as well. can very much relate to many aspects of the protagonists childhood, such as the lack of friends, and love of reading. I kept thinking of my own childhood as I read it and of the games and fantasies I would come up with, which make the book all the more effective.
I read a complaint on one review saying that Neil Gaiman does not explain his supernatural elements, but rather he just puts them in. I think that is true but it is a good thing overall. This is part of what makes the book so effective, is that the supernatural parts are intertwined with a ordinary world making it all the more extraordinary and terrifying. I think its also part of how childhood works, the world at that point seems a huge and open place to be explored and experienced more than necessarily understood.
The book is filled with a personal quality, as a well as a raw honesty which makes it one of his most honest books yet. Gaiman talks in the afterword about how this book sort of came upon him while he was trying to write a short story and it shows. It doesn't feel like a novel that someone set out to write but rather like one that wrote itself or even needed to be written. This is very possibly my favourite of Gaiman's novels, and I am glad that he accidentally wrote it. ...more