I don't even know where to begin. I haven't written a review for a book in quite a while, but this book has forced me to do so.
First of all, it is a b...moreI don't even know where to begin. I haven't written a review for a book in quite a while, but this book has forced me to do so.
First of all, it is a book of short stories, so I expected, well....um, stories. At best, there is one full story in the book. The rest of the stories are a few pages ripped from a larger book. Each story begins, rambles and never ties all the ramblings into one and points it in a direction. The story just ends. No conclusion, no resolution. Just a period behind the last sentence.
I have noticed this about a few short story compilations, but when did vague and muddled equate to clever and stylish. I forget what the cover quote said, but it was something like 'sometimes funny, clever and emotional'...blah, blah, blah. It was never funny, never clever and the only emotion that I had was anger. Just because there are fewer pages and words does not mean you have to sacrifice plot and coherence.
The thing is, I kept falling for it. Story after story I would get mad, hoping that the next one was worth the investment of time. Had this been one full novel, I would never have finished it. It is like the author knew that I could be strung along with short stories but not one long one.
I really don't enjoy writing negative reviews because the book represents someone time and effort, but I feel that this one is more than appropriate and that it is my duty to save others from wasting their time.(less)
I picked this book up thinking it was a financial thriller and was surprised to find that it was not. I was even more surprised that I started to read...moreI picked this book up thinking it was a financial thriller and was surprised to find that it was not. I was even more surprised that I started to read it anyway because I do not enjoy non-fiction. But it was a good read in that watching a train-wreck as entertainment sort of way.
I find it hard to give an opinion or like/not like something that has actually happened. I mean, how do you say that you like/not like a character or the plot when it actually happened. The book itself was hard to put down because it really is a case of truth being stranger than fiction. But the writing itself did not really hook me and I found it kinda lacking. It was the craziness of real-life events that were too bizarre to be true that kept me turning the pages. The storytelling jumped narrators frequently and it was hard to follow who was saying what. Yet I kept turning those pages.
On a side note, a glossary would have been a big help to digest some of the terms of the financial world. I didn't really expect to come away being able to trade on Wall Street, but sometimes I just had to accept that I didn't understand just so I could turn a page.
It is a great (if tragic) story wrapped in so-so storytelling, but I am glad that I read it.(less)
This is a book that is entertaining because it makes you think of all the consequences of an EMP detonation on a daily basis. It addresses things...moreWOW.
This is a book that is entertaining because it makes you think of all the consequences of an EMP detonation on a daily basis. It addresses things that you would never think of that many books and movies with similar situations never dealt with or brought up.
The plot these thoughts are formed around isn't all that great and a lot of the action happens off-stage, but you feel like you are watching a survival show and trying to remember all the pointers along the way. And that makes it a page turner.
It should be a must read not for the story itself but as a teaching tool to illustrate how far and how fast we can fall without all the things we take for granted.(less)
I love this book. It is what all sequels should aspire to be. The characters are the same but the plot resembles the first book in no w...morePerfect Sequel.
I love this book. It is what all sequels should aspire to be. The characters are the same but the plot resembles the first book in no way, shape or form.
The plot is well-paced and attacked from two different angles. It is very original and is a very logical progression from some of the elements of the first story. For a story about teleportation a lot of thought was put into how this power would work in the real world. By the time the author is done, you want to believe that this power is actually real.
I wish this was a better review, but I just don't have much more time.(less)
I love reading this author. There are some flaws in his writing style that bother me once I have finished the book and reflect on it, bu...moreClassic Coben!
I love reading this author. There are some flaws in his writing style that bother me once I have finished the book and reflect on it, but he is just about unbeatable when it comes to keeping a story moving and making you want to turn a page. I was having trouble finishing off two other books when the library informed me that they had a copy of this book on reserve for me but because of high demand I only had two weeks to read it in. I clipped this one in six days and it kickstarted me to finish the other two books so that I could (hopefully) find some more books to read that are just as good as this one.
I love how Coben weaves other characters and locales from his previous books into these stories. You don't need to have read any other Cobens to understand the story but it is a slight nod in appreciation to those who have. There are probably some in this story that I missed, and I have read a lot of Coben.
Though there are a few things that bother me about the book, they aren't truly flaws or errors, they are more like personal preferences. So I don't really want to go into detail and have this review come across as negative just because there are more words pointing these things out than there are positives about this book.
This book is a solid 4.75 stars for me, but I am only allowed whole stars. So even though I should round up according to the rules of math, I will give it 4 stars. It is oh-so-close, but I can't put on the same level as his best. Though there was an immediacy to the plot, it wasn't a Coben-immediacy to push it to 5 stars. That might be a bit vague for someone reading this review, but I can't describe it any better. Sometimes he finds an extra gear to shift his stories into, and this one could not quite get there.
But once again, don't let that stop you from picking up this book. You won't regret it one bit, and should you rate it 5 stars, I won't have a problem with that one bit.
(IN PROGRESS and very RANDOM...I may not come back and complete this review)
Disappointing and a little bit irritating. The elements on the book jacket...more(IN PROGRESS and very RANDOM...I may not come back and complete this review)
Disappointing and a little bit irritating. The elements on the book jacket probably are worth 3 stars, as the story on the jacket is right up my alley. The actual story, plot and characters get the two that I actually graded it. Maybe it is because I didn't start this series at the beginning, but I had made up my mind to read them all in order if I liked this book. I won't be reading any more of this series.
I don't know if I would have picked up this book if I knew that the characters names were Hawke, Stokes (Stokely), Brick (Brock) and Stoney. It comes across as just a little bit silly. Everybody in this book is the absolute best of the best of the best. Now I don't mind a bit of over the top, testosterone fueled story-telling. Every part of those stories begs you to check reality at the door. Not this book. We have a guy who has all the money, all the connections, all the experience and all the grace in a add blend that just doesn't feel very believable. I started reading less and less of the 'Pendergrast' novels because of the main characters elitism and arrogance, despite the fact that I loved the stories themselves. This main character is a much more masculine version of that same character.
I did not care for the weird blending of real life characters and fictional ones. Best friends with Putin and the Queen, and able to call in favors from both? And be a top notch mariner while your background is in aviation? Not a problem for our hero.
The main plot and the subplot of this book should be two separate books. I found myself caring more about the subplot than the actual plot and for all of the setup that it is given throughout the book, the payoff is very short, underplayed and happens 'off-screen'. The main plot goes from very believable to 'seriously?' in a very short order. There just wasn't enough balance between the two and both end up being mishandled.(less)
I loved this book, but then again, there is not much by this author that I have not loved on one level or another.
I love Sawyers ability to take a ver...moreI loved this book, but then again, there is not much by this author that I have not loved on one level or another.
I love Sawyers ability to take a very science-fictiony premise, which is usually very original and creative, and then bring it down into the real world and make the resulting actions very believable. And that is pretty much the story in a nutshell.
We have a device that is not very plausible and once we digest it and suspend our disbelief, we proceed directly into the story and the characters. The characters are believable and behave like we would envision these characters to if this situation was real. I love that Sawyer's stories do not necessarily have an alpha bad guy. There is no one entity that has to be overcome, much like the real world, but the struggle is over a situation or a collective of people and ways of thinking. Situations, not entities, are the enemy.
What this story does best is to make you think. Not about switching memories or how it is achieved but about how people react to this particular situation. Some embrace it, some seek to take advantage of it, some regret it and some loathe it. But the hows and whys are what make this book so very interesting. The author takes the characters to places I just did not foresee and made me think long and hard about how I would react.
I always feel smarter for reading a Robert Sawyer book. Either because I retain some nugget of data or because I have expanded my ways of thinking. I am at a point where I really don't even read the jackets anymore because I enjoy his books more without any prior knowledge of the plot. I can't wait for the next one.(less)
This is the second time that I have read this book, and it was every bit as entertaining this go around as it was the first time. I...moreI love this book.
This is the second time that I have read this book, and it was every bit as entertaining this go around as it was the first time. I am debating giving it 5 stars, but I will stick with 4 for now.
Though this is not really a major issue for me and doesn't really reflect on the author's writing ability, I did find Davy to be just a bit whiny. I realize that this is part of what makes up his character which in turn makes you care about the character, but he just seemed to cry at the drop of a hat. I think I would have still retained an emotional connection with him if he was a bit tougher, less frail, especially given the scenarios he involves himself in later in the book.
I really liked the development of the Millie/David relationship throughout the book and it provided enough reason to turn the page when the action slowed down a bit. I really think that the author wrung everything that he could out of David's situation without the plot having to take great leaps and bounds. When the pace does start to quicken toward the last quarter of the book, I wished it would slow down. I enjoyed the cat and mouse games between David and the government and would like to have seen more of that. Though it was done really well, the culmination of all his relationships seemed a bit frantic as well. So much foundation was laid concerning his mother and father that I didn't want to see it resolved so quickly either.
I would liked to have seen a resolution concerning his methods of income. I don't want to give anything away, but it seemed as if that thread was not resolved and a lot of material there left to mine.
The language was not really an issue for me, but the curse words did seem out of place and for shock value only. I don't see how they benefited the story at all and could have been left out entirely.
Great book. I can see myself reading this for a third time in the future.(less)
This might be my last Russinovich read. As it is, it is my second (after Zero Day) and that may be one too many. I just was not impressed at all.
The b...moreThis might be my last Russinovich read. As it is, it is my second (after Zero Day) and that may be one too many. I just was not impressed at all.
The beginning had promise and the technical side of the story (which is done very well, as expected) was balanced nicely with the actual plot. I actually found myself worrying about how close this comes to reality in the beginning and thought that the Chinese were more terrifying than anything that was shown in Zero Day. But that didn't last long. Somehow we veered off to Middle Eastern terrorists and once the plot could not be held together with technical details, everything started falling apart.
I just don't think the writing is very good in this book. I don't want to go back and reread my review on Zero Day and be influenced, but I think that I thought the same thing with that one too. The characters, hero or villain, were just not that interesting. We kept jumping back between locales and supporting characters in an effort to mimic an international thriller (Bourne-esque) but it comes across as flimsy and badly paced. By the time that the plot circled back around to the Chinese, they felt as if the author had remembered them at the last minute and added them back in. The last quarter of the book was almost unreadable to me. I had to skim just to keep myself turning pages because the plot, characters or writing itself were not getting the job done.
One of my biggest problems with this book is the effort the author goes into writing excuses into the book. to explain away why things don't make sense. Characters seem to make these unexplainable leaps of logic that the author turns around and says something like 'she doesn't know why she knows this, but she does...' that just seem ridiculous. It is like the author painted himself into a corner and instead of finding a creative way out of the situation, takes the easiest/shortest route in order to keep the plot moving. For this to happen once or twice over the course of the story might be plausible because chance/randomness does exist, but this device is used so often that it just becomes tiresome.
There is plenty more to say about this book, but I am not sure that I want to invest any more time on it. If you take away anything from this review, it is that I just did not find this book worth the time it took to read it.(less)
I want to give this book four stars. I do. It has vampires and parts are written by Jonathan Maberry, and that is usually enough for me. But I just ca...moreI want to give this book four stars. I do. It has vampires and parts are written by Jonathan Maberry, and that is usually enough for me. But I just can't do it.
Maybe I just don't get books of collected short stories. I kind of expect all of the stories contained to carry on some sort of overall narrative; even if they are written by different authors, I want there to be an introduction and a conclusion to the story. In this book, you get somewhat of a genesis of the virus and its spreading, but it ends in the middle of what I perceive to be a much larger story. It is open-ended and I didn't care for that.
Where does it excel? I love the many variations of vampires in the stories and how the book as a whole seems to embrace every incarnation of vampire in every book or movie and say that they can all coexist without the traits of one negating the traits of the other. The blending of myth and fact is handled very well. It even reaches out to other creatures of myth and welcomes them to the club as possible variants of what created vampires in the first place. I just really like that it didn't try to lay down the end-all-be-all set of rules for what a vampire is, how he was created and what his abilities and weaknesses are so as to scoff at everything that came before it.
Some of the stories were better than others, but that is to be expected. Others didn't really seem to advance the overall plot at all while others cleverly wove in characters and events from others. It was all a bit confusing, but it rewards those who pay more attention. I think I could have paid more attention myself.
I just kept waiting for the final story to either wrap the book up with a cure for vampirism, displays of tolerance for vampires in our midst or a declaration of all-out war. Instead, it just felt like all of the authors decided to put down their pens together. I loved the idea, not necessarily the execution.(less)
I was a bit skeptical when I picked up another Superhero-themed book. I had picked up Superman: Last Son of Krypton with a bit...moreGREAT MOVIE...er, BOOK!
I was a bit skeptical when I picked up another Superhero-themed book. I had picked up Superman: Last Son of Krypton with a bit of excitement only to be sorely disappointed. This book is the way it should be done.
I will start in earnest by saying that I am a fan of Batman, but mostly by way of Superfriends when I was younger, the Adam West years on through the Tim Burton and Chris Nolan films, with a bit of comics on the side. I am not familiar with the less familiar storylines found in the comics, though I am aware that there is a lot of depth there. That being said, I think a Batman newbie would find this book as entertaining as a diehard fan. It was easy to jump in and you didn't feel like the book was only rewarding the long-time fans.
One of the things that had me worried was how many really good stories can be mined out of such a long, storied, complex history. With anything that runs as long as Batman has, you seem to get a case of the world getting smaller; the snake eventually eating its tail. This story didn't feel shoehorned at all into the remaining untold backstories. In fact, it was quite grand in scope, spanning Bruce's grandfather, father and himself.
This is not really a complaint of this story but of Batman's history itself is that these days it seems like all the villains are working the long game. There are no more straight up thugs out to grab a quick slice of the pie. Everybody has to set up long cons of manipulation where we later find out that these villains themselves were part of an even larger game, etc...Not that they aren't enjoyable, just not believable when used over and over again. I thought this plot was really well done, especially the Joker's scenes, but it fell prey to the uber-diabolical villain scenario.
One final problem I have is all of the allusions to bats in the Wayne's history. A bungled costume that ends up resembling a bat? We get it already. There is plenty of inspiration for Bruce to draw from as to why he chose a bat as his symbol. Had his costume been (anachronistically) Pac-Man and he slept on Pac-Man sheets and ate Pac-Man cereal from a Pac-Man spoon, would Wayne be parading around as Pac-Man? Do we have to cram bats into every nook and cranny? Every form of media wants to pay homage, but over the long haul, it is overkill.
It sounds like I was not happy with the book, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The pacing was superb. The plot managed to bounce from a past era to present day much like a movie would, and the author pulls it off beautifully. Because the present day plot mirrors a past plot in the Wayne history, there is at times a bit of confusion as to which era you are in, but other than that, the author manages to keep the pace and tension of the story up even though the events themselves are unfolding very slowly.
Having not been born in the 50s and 60s, I cannot attest to the authenticity of the language/vocabulary being used in the backflashes, but it sure felt like the author captured the era. Just enough of the past leaked through into the vocabulary to feel authentic. It is very easy for an author to tread too heavily when doing something like this, to try to make a point through repetition, to a point where you are being beaten over the head with a club and being yelled at that THIS IS TAKING PLACE IN THE PAST. I am thankful that the author chose subtlety.
I really enjoyed this book. I would have given it five stars but the ending took a slightly different turn than I would have liked. The ending that we were given was not bad by any means, but I feel it has painted the legacy into a corner in a similar fashion as Bryan Singer's Superman Returns film did. Unless this author gets the nod to continue the series under his/her vision, he/she has really raised the bar for the next author. I look forward to what comes next, either by this author or the next. My faith in the Superhero in a non-comic setting (book, in this case) has been restored.(less)
I truly could not put this book down. After having just come off a really long read, it was really nice to pick something up that was so ea...moreGREAT READ!
I truly could not put this book down. After having just come off a really long read, it was really nice to pick something up that was so easy to read, so entertaining and so well written.
The plot itself was really interesting and original, at least to me. The author managed to take a straight-up sci-fi concept and set it down in a present day setting like it is any old other story, and he makes it believable. After the initial setup, you don't think twice about whether or not the plot is possible, you just KNOW it is happening right now.
The characters were well written with the good guy having flaws that make him believable and with bad guys that you really don't like. There is tension on every page, either just below the surface or right in your face. You just WANT to get to the next page.
The book is just well written in general. And one would think that would be a given after everything I have already said, but I have read plenty of stories that I enjoyed for their premise or characters without the book itself being well written. It was clever, fast paced and stayed away from most of the cliches.
I really cannot say enough good things about this book. The only reason I am not saying more is because I already have. I had already written up a much longer review and was about to hit send when my browser crashed and I lost my work. And as good as I think this book is, I cannot bring myself to write another review that is as in-depth as my first. My apologies.