I just finished reading your Zodiac adventures and how I loved them. At first I was a bit confused since I was expecting a science-fiction...moreDear S.T. -
I just finished reading your Zodiac adventures and how I loved them. At first I was a bit confused since I was expecting a science-fiction novel. I know, I know, you did start your memoirs clearly stating that this is an eco-thriller, but I was misled by the GoodReads shelving. Have you seen it? Oof! "Science Fiction," "Horror," even "Fantasy." Although "Cyberpunk" has be the best one given that your colleagues refuse to work in an office with a computer and you use yours only for printing and text-editing. Maybe it's because some guy named Neal-something wrote a bunch of SF novels, although I still didn't figure out the connection.
But enough of that. I don't think I've ever read such a fun thriller. Usually, this kind of tomes relinquish any kind of conviviality in order to accentuate their nerve-clenching aspect. But you look at life with the eyes of a big child tough dude, enjoying (almost) every moment. Did I tell you that I laughed out loud reading the car-chase description from Niagara and the subsequent shopping spree with the bad-guys' credit card? And your Macgyverian moments from the first half of the story were priceless. I did feel that maybe you started a bit late to get into the pith of the matter (around page 120 from 307) but that wasn't much of a problem.
However, S.T., I wasn't thrilled about you falling back to drugs every time when you're stressed. LSD, mushrooms, speed, and what else... For a "near-genius" chemist, one would think that you'd know better that kind of stuff permanently and irrevocably messes up your grey-matter. It made me a bit sad since a chemist would be the first one to understand how dangerous those drugs are. Watch out...
I have to finish here since I'm sure you have lots of fan-mail to read. Till next time, so long!(less)
3.5 stars. I feel sad to write a less-than-laudable review for anything that Ms. Bujold wrote, but this book was a little disappointing.
First of all...more3.5 stars. I feel sad to write a less-than-laudable review for anything that Ms. Bujold wrote, but this book was a little disappointing.
First of all "Ethan of Athos" is very short, a novella of barely 180 pages. Obviously the size is not a problem in itself but the cause of other issues, as for instance the flat and bidimensional characters. If someone else wrote this story I would have rated it higher, but I got to expect so much more from Ms. Bujold's actors. The other novellas from this series build up on the information from the previous novels and on Miles's character; but "Ethan of Athos" is a stand-alone story with (for all practical purpose) completely new characters, who don't have the time to "mature" in only 180 pages. Granted, Ethan is better profiled than Elli, but even him lacks in depth.
Second, there is the tension-issue that I can't charge to the number of pages. I just started reading "Falling Free" (the self-contained prequel to the series, set 200 years before the events of the main novels) and in less than 40 pages it already grabbed my attention much more than "Ethan of Athos" ever did up to the end. For a thriller, "Ethan of Athos" lacks quite a bit in suspense, and Ethan, as a character, is rather irresolute. We are told that he is stronger than he gives himself credit for, but I personally don't see that strength manifested very often, and I most definitely don't understand how (view spoiler)[turning Athos's population telepathic would serve the greater good of his home planet (hide spoiler)].["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I am so behind writing my reviews that I hope you won't mind if I don't remember names and small details anymore. Unfortunately after so long from rea...moreI am so behind writing my reviews that I hope you won't mind if I don't remember names and small details anymore. Unfortunately after so long from reading the books, some factors start to blend in.
Going back to this review, this is the second time when I write it, partly because the first time I was a bit harsh. Yes, the third and (unfortunately) last book of this trilogy was a bit of a letdown. It was still fast paced, but the plot was not nearly as interesting as the first two installments and extremely previsible. Yet, after giving it more thought, I realized that I still enjoyed this book probably twice as much as most other books that I read this year.
So once again: what is so special about them? It took me a while to realize that if The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was initially titled "The Men who Hate Women," Stieg Larsson should have been nicknamed "The Man who Loves Women." I don't think I have ever read another author who is so positive about women, so much that if the writer was a female she would have been accused of bias.
Everyone, of course, is in love with Lisbeth - the anti-heroine who brings justice in spite of all odds. But if you pay a little bit more attention, you notice that there are absolutely no negative female characters. Not only that, but all of Larsson's women are exceptional in one way or another: at the very least, they are hard working and extremely competent in what they are doing, but more often they are a head above the men around them, professionally, physically, and morally. The only time when Larsson's women are wrong about something is when they are mislead into their conclusion or judgement.
But it's not only about the females' features that makes me say the author loves women: it's about the way he talks about them. I remember one instance in which Stieg Larsson was describing a secondary female character: he starts by saying that she was good looking, elegant, and some other (all nice) physical attributes, only to keep for the very end the last detail: that the lady was in her 60's. I have to admit that after reading a plethora of American authors, who tend to give extra weight to a woman's age, Larsson's voice comes like a spring breeze, fresh and unexpected.
What I didn't like anymore about this novel was the very slim plot. Everyone expects that Lisbeth would finally win her independence, but if you strip down the plot to the core, there isn't much going on and almost no unexpected twists. On the contrary - there were a few twists that started well, but ended nowhere (as for instance, the little community of hackers that is so strepitous, yet it does almost nothing to help Lisbeth). Most of the mystery, if there is anything like that, is solved in the first pages of the novel. Moreover, the newly added negative characters are rather deficient and give the impression of amateurism.
Instead, there are a few secondary stories (Erika's stalker) that rather than bringing new information to the main plot, simply reinforce the background of a misogynistic sub-society.
Overall this is a good, if not terribly satisfying, ending of the trilogy.
P.S. If you wonder why so many reviewers mention the sandwiches: it is because every other page someone makes sandwiches, which are described with a cookbook-like affluence of details. (less)
******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read thi...more******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read this novel, which I might not have purchased otherwise. ------
7/24/11 I'm on page 243 as I write this first part of my review, but I thought I would write a few comments down before I forget them.
So far the reading had been mostly fast-paced and interesting. There is a war that had been stealthily going on for the last few hundreds of years. No one really knows what started it and most folks don't even care anymore. As long as they're born in one of the families that are part of the war, all that matters is that they can die anytime. Hence taking down the other side first becomes imperative.
The main characters of this novel are called Joseph and Maria. I might be wrong, but based on the first page of the book, their child's name is Christopher. Since I don't believe in coincidences, I imagine Christopher is the one that will end the war, be the savior. I'm still not sure that telling the end of the trilogy from almost the very beginning of the first book was a good idea...
Anyways, the main issue I have - and indeed it is a serious one - is the whole pretext of the book: Joseph writes his memoirs for Maria, in order to explain to her his life and the choices he made. The problem is that he tells her every single detail of their encounters, in spite of the fact that she was there. It is completely unrealistic! I understand that he would explain to her his feelings or impressions, but repeating to her every single line of their conversation and every gesture that she made doesn't make absolutely any sense; she was there after all. With every occurrence of phrases like "you said," "you looked at," "you did," "you grabbed," etc, reading becomes increasingly annoying.
I'm really sad to criticize the novel for something seemingly as minor as this, particularly because overall the book is definitely good, but I already find difficult to go ahead reading it because of this issue. ------
7/25/11 I'm going to rate it 3.5 stars and round it up to 4 for its potential. The book got better toward the end. I found the whole dynamic of the plot rather fascinating: in most action novels, the events spike toward the end. However, in Children of Paranoia the time slows down in the end, it even has gaps. The reader lives under the impression that everything will be all right, that finally Joe fell under the radar. Then everything moves fast forward in the last few (less than 10) pages. (view spoiler)[No, things are not all right. Quite the contrary: it is worse than it has ever been. (hide spoiler)]
The best thing of "Children of Paranoia" is the depth of detail regarding Joseph's character. The fact that the story is told from his point of view renders him believable, full of nuances. The only part that I found quite unlikely was his reaction to (view spoiler)[his mother's betrayal (hide spoiler)]. I would have expected anything from rage to sorrow to bewilderment or simply shock. "I'll always love you" is most definitely not a viable reaction.
To end my review, Trevor Shane creates a parallel world that is most of the time convincing and frightening.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read thi...more******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have read this novel, which I might not have purchased otherwise. -----
The premise of the story is that after a ski accident, Dr. Jonathon Ransom suddenly discovers that his wife lived a double life, the alternate life being much more interesting than the one they shared. Before he knows it, he finds himself trapped in a whirlpool of political intrigues he doesn't understand and he is not prepared for.
I really liked this book a lot. Half way through it, I had not idea whom to call the "good guys" and whom to call the "bad guys," and even less who these "guys" were. Three quarters through it, even if I learned who the players were, I still didn't know exactly who's good and who's bad. The plot got thicker and thicker till almost the very last page and the characters kept showing new faces.
Neither thrillers nor espionage-political stories are my first love. But this novel was such a fast-paced read, which in spite of the 400+ pages left me wanting for more. It's 100% action packed, and when we encounter some descriptions, they simply made me dream of spending a vacation in Switzerland. From the sheer amount of geographical, cultural, and political details the author gives us, it is obvious that he had lived for a while in this country (and he did indeed live there).
Regarding the depth of the characters, for a thriller, they are reasonably well developed, with enough details to understand their actions and make them credible. The only one whose history was a little bit of a stretch for me was the Ghost. And the best part: pretty much everyone except for Jonathon Ransom and the Swiss policeman is a (dark-)gray character. There are no good guys in this story!
So what I didn't liked about this novel? Honestly, there isn't anything that I disliked about it!(less)