11/22/63 is a really good, at times even great, Stephen King novel that unfortunately falls apart at the very end. The setting of early 60's America i...more11/22/63 is a really good, at times even great, Stephen King novel that unfortunately falls apart at the very end. The setting of early 60's America is charming and though I wasn't born until the late 80's, I felt a wave of nostalgia reading this novel. Every character is written realistically and some even sympathetically, such as Lee Harvey Oswald. I do wish there had been more JFK but overall, the characters were fine. The best part of this story is the thought of travelling back in time and preventing America's greatest tragedy and finding love in the process. Living in the mid-20th century America must have been quite nice and I enjoyed seeing it. Unfortunately, rather than give us a realistic result of the "what if JFK had lived?" scenario, Mr. King instead goes with what he admits were "worst case possible" results, plus almost supernatural events. When as expected, Jake finally prevents the assassination, we don't see a US that avoided Vietnam and most of the Cold War; instead, we're given a US being destroyed by earthquakes and shitty presidents. I felt that was a bit of a cop out. The ending that follows will also have different effects on different people. I personally would have preferred something a little happier and less ambiguous, but the current one wasn't too bad either. All in all, a very fun concept wrapped in a dense and well-written package, that was unfortunately kept from being truly great by the last 50 pages or so.(less)
"The Night Eternal", the end of the Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is a fine read. Taken on it's own, it's actually quite a good...more"The Night Eternal", the end of the Strain Trilogy by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan is a fine read. Taken on it's own, it's actually quite a good novel about a post-apocalyptic New York City ruled by the iron first of an ancient vampire. However, when the two novels of the trilogy that preceded this one are taken into consideration, it is quite obvious that this is the weakest of the three.
Still, one cannot overlook the good and what this book does good, it does quite well; for instance, the characters of Nora Martinez and Vasiliy Fet are given bigger roles and blossom into quite the likable pair. The development of their relationship in the ruins of society is at times touching and makes sense in the context of the story. Also, Mr. Quinlan, the "Born" and son of the Master is an interesting, solemn figure. His contribution is perhaps a bit small in terms of page length, but in the grand scheme of things, he's one of the most important characters and it's nice to see his story given room to breathe.
However, the arcs of the characters mentioned above come at the expense of that of Ephraim Goodweather, the trilogy's main character. Where in the first two books he was a man of science who cared deeply about his family and friends, he is now a former shell of himself. It's understandable that with the abduction of his son at the end of "The Fall" he would be distraught, but Guillermo Del Toro went a little too far; Eph is no longer an intelligent and resourceful leader, he is a selfish and unreliable drug addict. He is supposed to be a sympathetic father who lost the person most important to him, but he comes across as nothing but a creep. He is supposed to be the heart of the story, but his parts are some of the worst in the whole story. Also, what the heck happened to Zack? He was a cute little kid and now he's a little jerk with OCD (yeah... wait, what?). Fortunately, Fet saves the book from being a total disaster.
Speaking of disaster, what happened with the back story of the Master? As many of you may have already heard, the interesting and unique portrayal of the vampire as a biological virus from the first two books is completely forgotten in favor of a cliched biblical source. Where in the first two books, the Master was a biological intruder and a species looking to overtake man as the top of the food chain, now he is a fallen angel doomed to wander the earth... ::yawn:: It's not that biblical spin can't work, it's just that it comes so out of left field that it almost feels like Del Toro was writing two different vampire novels and then mixed them up. There is absolutely no trace of the scientific approach from the first two novels and frankly, those were what made them interesting in the first place.
Still, all is not lost; the other characters are all interesting in their own ways and there were some really good scenes such as Gus and his mother-turned-vampire. The final battle is full of action and for a moment there, it looks as if all is lost. It was never going to shock anyone when the humans defeated the Master as almost all stories have a happy ending, but Eph finally redeeming himself was a bit of a surprise. The whole novel he was a depressed chore of a character and at the end he finally did what was right and saved the world. The ending is what really made me go with 4-stars over 3, though if possible, a 3.5-star score would have been more appropriate.
All in all, "The Night Eternal" was a good, if flawed, book. I would have made several changes myself, but I can't argue with the overall product. I look forward to Del Toro's next project and at the end of the day, that's a pretty damn good compliment in my book.(less)
Pygmy is a novel by the brilliant author of Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. Of all his works, none has been as divisive as this; some people love the sto...morePygmy is a novel by the brilliant author of Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk. Of all his works, none has been as divisive as this; some people love the story or the characters, others can't get past the style it is written in. A valid argument at that, as the entire novel is written in broken English in the form of a diary by a Chinese teenage terrorist. Definitely less accessible than his other novels, but with a little effort, the story really shines.
Pygmy, the main character, is a foreign exchange student who is here along with his other compatriots to enact Operation Havoc on the US. The book is split into 36 dispatches sent to an unnamed superior about his experiences of permeating our country and culture. There are plenty of expected misunderstandings such as Pyg being told dogs and cats are "beef" and "pork" and the payoff that follows. I don't want to spoil the story but will say that the arc of progression shown by Pyg is a fun read.
The syntax is very difficult, especially at the beginning, but one is able to grow accustomed to the bad grammar. Investing time and effort will reveal a fun Palahniuk novel, better than some of his other recent novels such as Snuff and Rant. It's not quite as good as Fight Club or Haunted, but it is overall very entertaining.(less)
As with any other compilation of short-stories, there tends to be a few clunkers mixed in with some good stories; unfortunately, Joe Hill is no differ...moreAs with any other compilation of short-stories, there tends to be a few clunkers mixed in with some good stories; unfortunately, Joe Hill is no different in that aspect. As with the collections his father has released, there does seem to be a story or two that should have been left on the cutting room floor. However, the good vastly outweighs the bad. The stories are imaginative and contrary to the title, don't all feature a ghost. Heck, I don't think there was more than 2 or 3 actual ghost stories in this collection! Instead, we are treated to some truly great stories here. Several which unfortunately feel as if they are but segments of a greater novel. It's a shame really, that certain stories couldn't be extended into a full-on book, because there really are some great ideas here. The last few stories in particular, were extremely good. "My father's Mask" and "Voluntary Committal" both feature some interesting stories that I wish Joe would write more about. As mentioned before, there are a few that weren't all that great but even those few stories cannot tarnish what is otherwise a fabulous collection of ideas here. Joe Hill is my favorite newer author and I see a good future for him!(less)
I read Joe Hill's two other books; one a collection of short stories and the other a full-fledged novel. This being his most recent novel really shows...moreI read Joe Hill's two other books; one a collection of short stories and the other a full-fledged novel. This being his most recent novel really shows that there has been a progression, from a really good writer to a master in his field. After three books in five years, I can say that Joe Hill has written a true masterpiece. Whereas his two other books were really good, great even, this one is a true masterpiece. The inner-flap of the book does not do the story justice! This story is about a man who loved a woman as much as humanly possible, only for her to be brutally murdered and he fingered as the number one suspect. Some time later, he awakens from a night of excess, only to realize he has horns. These "Devil Horns" however, seem to affect the people he encounters in a strange way. What follows is a journey to discover what really happened. I'd hate to give anything away, but what I can say is that the relationship that Ig (the main character) shares with Merrin is beautiful. The story starts strong, but as more and more is revealed about the character's pasts, one truly feels sad for the impending horror. The other characters also garner sympathy and you can't help but hope for a happy ending, knowing that one isn't really possible. I wouldn't be surprised if some people came away from this experience with a tear or two in their eye. Overall, I can't give this novel enough praise. It truly is a great book, the best I've read in quite some time actually. If Joe Hill continues this pattern of continuous improvement, I see him having a very successful and long career.(less)
For a fan of Jerry Seinfeld, his show or even just comedy in general, this book is a winner. It's filled with funny quips and monologues culled from b...moreFor a fan of Jerry Seinfeld, his show or even just comedy in general, this book is a winner. It's filled with funny quips and monologues culled from both his stand-up comedy act and the routines featured on the show. Jerry has a way of finding humor in the most mundane every-day things and it's all in good-natured fun. No swear words (at least from what I remember) or truly dirty subject matter also make this a book you can share with anyone.(less)