I listened to the audiobook. The narrator did a good job with what he had to work with, but the premise did nothing to interest me. Also, I have to adI listened to the audiobook. The narrator did a good job with what he had to work with, but the premise did nothing to interest me. Also, I have to admit that I giggled rather immaturely the first few times the narrator, in his ultra-serious tone, mentioned the character named Leaky.
The book was so ridiculous and unlikely that I couldn't bring myself to finish. I stopped at around the 30% mark....more
A Hugo Award nominee, about an estranged son who returns home to see his parents after undergoing a radical physical transformation that his father isA Hugo Award nominee, about an estranged son who returns home to see his parents after undergoing a radical physical transformation that his father is unhappy about. Though the interactions between the son and the father are realistic in terms of how estranged family members react to one another, and the parts where the son interacted with his Alzheimer's-suffering mother were poignant and sad, the story lacked the "wow" factor for me. It was still good, but it wasn't one of my favourites of the nominees. 2.5/5 stars
Every night, Robert Neville sits in his boarded-up house, listening to the vampires throw stones and cry out for his blood. The vampires who pace outsEvery night, Robert Neville sits in his boarded-up house, listening to the vampires throw stones and cry out for his blood. The vampires who pace outside his door and his windows used to be his neighbours, his community members, and his friends; now all they want is to drink his blood.
Vampires are a result of a mysterious plague that no scientist or doctor understood, a plague that overran the entire world and turned everyone into a vampire. Neville alone seems to be immune to it, and he is, as far as he knows, the last human left on Earth. When he finds a human woman running through a field in the middle of the day, he dares to hope that he isn’t nearly as alone as he’d thought.
I Am Legend is a book that you wouldn’t think is scary. Yes, there are vampires, and yes, there’s killing. But it isn’t gory. The violence isn’t written out in nauseating detail--in fact, it’s barely described at all. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly what’s scary about the book. Part of it might be the loneliness. Neville is completely alone. Every night he has to watch and listen to people he used to be friends with, people who now cry out for his blood, taunting him so that he’ll leave his house and be within killing reach. He literally has no one: his daughter was taken away from him in the early days of the plague, and his wife was one of the plague's first victims, back before anyone knew anything about it.
You’d think that this would make Neville a character you can sympathize with, but it doesn’t. Because Neville isn’t a very likable character. Sure, he has good qualities: he loved his wife and kid dearly, and he has a soft spot for dogs. But otherwise, he’s not a very good man. He kills people (well, vampires) as they sleep. He performs experiments on them (some that we see, some that we don’t). And he is obsessed to the point of creepiness with finding where his now-vampire next-door-neighbour sleeps during the day, so he can kill the man. Neville’s actions may be born of necessity, but they make it difficult to like him and to care about what happens to him. This is perhaps also part of the scariness of the book: here’s a man who used to be a dedicated husband and father, but who has become a jaded killer over time because he lives in a world where he must kill in order to stay alive himself.
I had one major disbelief-breaking issue with the book: during the early days of the plague, apparently no one thought to examine the plague victims’ blood under a microscope to check for abnormalities. But Neville, who is neither a researcher nor a doctor, thinks of doing this after just a few months of reading library books about virology and microbiology. This doesn’t seem plausible. Unless things were dramatically different in the 50s when this was written, I would think that checking blood samples of people with an unknown illness would be a logical first step in figuring out how to treat it. (view spoiler)[I also find it unlikely that Neville, who again has no medical knowledge beyond what he’s read in books, can come up with a vaccine. Even though the vaccine is ineffective, the idea that a layman with only a microscope and a home office can even MAKE a vaccine seems painfully unrealistic. (hide spoiler)]
On a related note, there are several instances where readers get to learn about the finer points of bacterial lifestyles and processes. I didn’t have any issues with these passages on their own, but I’m not convinced they’re entirely necessary. Plus, they slow down the book’s pace, and after a while start to become somewhat irritating. I’m not an expert in microbiology, so I can’t say how accurate the info is--it might be realistic, or if might be more a case of the author playing fast and loose with the natural world; I don’t know--but the passages sound very technical and jargon-y, and I think that people who aren’t very familiar with the terminology and the concepts might find them confusing. I personally ended up skimming over the bacteria-related snippets, and I never once felt like I’d missed anything important.
Overall, there’s a good reason why I Am Legend is a staple of the horror genre. It’s scary, it’s emotional, and most of all, it stays with you long after you’ve read it. From the first line to the revelation at the end, this is a book that I recommend to anyone looking for their next horror fiction read. So go on and read this, if you haven’t already. You won’t be disappointed.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This is the first book of the Gor series, and unlike the more recent Gor books, it actually has a plot. Having read a couple of Norman's later Gor booThis is the first book of the Gor series, and unlike the more recent Gor books, it actually has a plot. Having read a couple of Norman's later Gor books before getting to this one, I'm surprised at the incredible difference between this book and the dreck that was published later on in this series.
The writing here is decent at best, but the book manages to be entertaining in its own bizarre way. As a light, mindless read, you could do worse than this.
Generations ago, aliens called Hoots invaded Earth. Hoots have very weak legs, so they started breeding humans to use as mounts. Some humans resistedGenerations ago, aliens called Hoots invaded Earth. Hoots have very weak legs, so they started breeding humans to use as mounts. Some humans resisted and fled to the mountains where the Hoots don't care to pursue them, but others are still being actively bred and trained in Hoot compounds. There are the muscular Seattles, the lean and skinny Tennessees, and the in-betweens: the nothings, who are of no value to the Hoots.
Charley is a Seattle, the child of some of the most famous Seattles in history, and he's proud of it. His life goal is to be the best mount possible, and he's well on his way to his goal when he gets chosen as the mount of his new Little Master, a baby Hoot who happens to be the Hoots' future ruler. But when Charley's home compound is attacked by Wild Humans--wild humans led by Charley's escapee father--Charley's entire life is thrown on its head. Instead of learning to be a good mount, Charley must now learn how to be a good human.
The Mount is a hard book to rate. It's an uncomfortable book that takes a very hard look at predator-prey and symbiotic relationships, where humans are on the losing end of the relationship, and it's a book where you never quite know who to root for. Do you root for Charley, the brainwashed preteen who feels more comfortable with his Hoot host than his own people, and who touts his own lineage while simultaneously looking down at everyone who doesn't fit into his worldview? Do you root for Charley's father, a man who can never really articulate his feelings and motivations and who remains something of a mystery throughout the entire novel? Or do you root for Little Master, who as a Hoot and an alien would technically be a villain?
The Hoot's treatment of humans, and Charley's internalized distaste toward everyone who isn't a purebred Seattle, parallels some very prominent human tendencies, but it does so in a way that is both fascinating and slightly uncomfortable to read about. The book is written to highlight how a mount thinks, and it does this well. But the writing style disengages you at the same time. You can't really relate to the main character, because the character himself isn't allowed to relate to anything aside from how he has been taught is the proper way to think. This makes the book a surprisingly unemotional read. But the writing is strong, which I think makes up for it.
This wasn't a perfect book by any means. As mentioned, the disengaging writing made it hard to immerse myself in the story. Some of the technological parts seemed fairly unlikely as well (view spoiler)[How do airplanes still work after all these years? And how has the knowledge to fly them survived after so long? (hide spoiler)], but none of these really detracted from the book. For me, at least. This is definitely a book where you have to read it for yourself to see what you can take away from it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It almost hurt to be so consistently annoyed while reading it, because I had such high hopes for it.I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. It almost hurt to be so consistently annoyed while reading it, because I had such high hopes for it.
Unwind is like abstract art, in the sense that it looks great when you look at the whole picture, but once you start looking at different parts separately, you notice that, hey, eyes aren't normally on people's foreheads. And why does this nose have three nostrils?
And just like abstract art, sometimes a book's distinctiveness works, and sometimes it falls flat.
Unwind is in the second category.
On the surface, the idea is fascinating: the world, following a war between Pro-Life and Pro-Choice armies, has become a dystopia where kids between ages thirteen and eighteen can be "Unwound"--a procedure where a teenager is taken apart piece by piece and used for transplanting. Parents who decide, for whatever reason, that they no longer want their child can sign an agreement to have their child Unwound, and the child gets no say in it at all.
In short, the idea is absolutely amazing.
On the surface, the characters are interesting as well. Connor is short-tempered and quick to turn violent when he gets angry, until his parents decide that they can't deal with his constant fights anymore and agree to have him Unwound. Risa is a talented musician who lives in a state home until they decide to Unwind her because they're running out of room. And Lev is a tithe, a child raised for the sole purpose of being Unwound, and who is raised to believe that being a tithe is a pure and honourable thing. And the side characters all have their own interesting histories and personalities as well.
Sounds fascinating, right? And then you look a little deeper, and that's when things start to fall apart.
The society in Unwind makes no sense. To avoid spoilers, I'll be as vague as possible. But it is unbelievable that parents will simply tire of their kids after thirteen or more years, and decide to Unwind them, just because the child might have some problems. I mean, by that point, you've already had them for a rather long time, and have presumably developed some sort of attachment to them, right? How likely is it that you'll just shrug, say "Oh, well, I tried," and then have them hauled off to essentially be killed for parts? That doesn’t sound like good parenting. Heck, that sounds rather sociopathic.
The characters fare no better to careful scrutiny. They all seem to be defined by one or two main characteristics, and are disappointingly flat and boring. Connor is short-tempered, therefore we always see him trying to control his temper. Risa is the Smart Girl, so we see her doing Smart Girl stuff. Lev is the only one whose personality changes over the course of the book, but, since we only ever see the end product, and not the change itself, Lev’s transformation wasn’t nearly as powerful as it could have been. And to be honest, not seeing it happen left me feeling kind of cheated.
Then we get to the writing. I was debating not mentioning anything about it, on the basis of everyone having different tastes in what they consider good or bad writing, but it was a very big part in why I disliked this book. So just keep in mind that this is my opinion, and that everyone is perfectly free to disagree with me.
And so, the writing.
One of the first things budding writers are told is "show, don't tell." Shusterman doesn't do this. If a character is angry, we're told that he's angry. If a character is upset, we're told that she's upset. It gets irritating after a while, because we're never shown that a character is, say, gritting their teeth so hard that their jaw hurts, just because they don't want to say anything they'll regret. No, we're told that So-and-so decides not to say anything.
My second issue is the point of view. The book is written in present tense, which I don't generally love, but it isn't an automatic dealbreaker. Except here, every so often, we’ll see something that’s in past tense for no reason. It’s distracting, and it kept breaking me out of the story to backtrack and figure out if something happened in the past, or if the author was just messing around with the tenses. Also, every so often we switch from the character telling the story through their point of view, to having the narrator say something that the character could never know (“So-and-so’s shoulder hurts, but he doesn’t know it’s because of [reason]” is an almost exact quote from the book). The first time it happened, it confused me and threw me out of the story. And I’ll be honest: I hate having to stop halfway through a scene to figure out if I’m actually in a character’s head, or if the narrator is omniscient/all-knowing/not actually the character. Because while it’s not a major thing, my inner editor still rages whenever it happens. And an angry inner editor means an annoyed me as I’m reading.
My second and last issue with the point of view is that we get pivotal scenes in the point of view of some character who we’ll never see again once the scene is over. Like the scene where we see the first major change in Lev. I would have loved to be in Lev’s head at that point, to see how he’s feeling throughout, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was in the head of some shopkeeper who I didn’t care about, and who never showed up after that one scene was over. And yes, that’s one of the scenes where I felt cheated. I wanted to know what Lev was thinking, and what he was feeling throughout the scene. But that didn’t happen, and it was kind of disappointing.
But it wasn’t all bad, even though it might seem like it from all the ranting I just did. And so I’d like to touch on the good things about the writing. Because I’ll always give credit where it’s due.
First of all, Shusterman’s dialogue is amazing. The characters talk like real people, and even the characters with accents and odd speech patterns sound realistic. So there’s definite kudos for that.
Also, despite its flaws, the book was a quick read. There was action and tension, and when I just focused on surface things and didn’t think about everything too deeply, it was a very enjoyable read.
So, in short, I can and do recommend this book. If you’re looking for a quick read based around an interesting premise, try it out. If you’re looking for something thought-provoking--where you can analyze and pick apart what you read--you may want to look elsewhere. ...more
I tried. I really, really tried to read this. But I just couldn't do it. I know it's a classic, and that it was such an important book in the early daI tried. I really, really tried to read this. But I just couldn't do it. I know it's a classic, and that it was such an important book in the early days of the science fiction genre, but I just couldn't read it.
I wasn't invested in the characters. I found the bad guys over-the-top and cheesy in their badness. And the intrigue left me bored to tears rather than riveted.
That said, the world itself was fascinating. It was new, and unique, and I loved that Herbert considered aspects of living on a desert planet--and the inherent issues with water conservation--that most people wouldn't think of.
But that wasn't enough to keep me reading.
My eReader keeps taunting me with "Dune - 40% read" every time I go to my list of books in progress. But I can't bring myself to keep reading. And I really hate not finishing books once I've started them.
I'll refrain from actually rating Dune, because what I read wasn't bad enough to warrant one star, but I didn't like it enough to give it two stars. Which leaves me with no possible star rating to give it.
If you love science fiction as a genre, this is a must-read book. If you're more of a casual SF reader, and are perhaps not so invested in the genre as you could be, consider giving this a pass....more
I'm glad I picked up this trilogy, because this book--and, to be honest, this entire series--is one of the better ones that I've read. I'm just sad thI'm glad I picked up this trilogy, because this book--and, to be honest, this entire series--is one of the better ones that I've read. I'm just sad that it's over, and with the series consisting of three 500-page books, I didn't think it would move so quickly.
I heartily recommend the trilogy to both science fiction and fantasy (especially political fantasy) readers. You won't be disappointed....more
There was no adrenaline-charged action in this book, but there was enough suspense to keep me interested. The characters are engaging, and I was drawnThere was no adrenaline-charged action in this book, but there was enough suspense to keep me interested. The characters are engaging, and I was drawn into the story very quickly. Fallon is great at writing natural-sounding dialogue (and there's quite a bit of humour in the dialogue, which I loved) and the book focuses just enough on the politics to make it intriguing rather than boring. And, while the main conflict tends to boil down to faith vs science, it didn't come across as being preachy.
Some of the characters' responses to events seemed a little dramatic and hard to believe, but otherwise, the book was a good, solid read.
I'm giving this 4.5 stars, and bumping it up to 5 because very few books are compelling enough for me to request the sequel from my library as soon as I'm done reading them....more