A easy and shallow read, but entertaining at least. Constant pop culture references were kind of fun. Feels like it was written by a guy who was toldA easy and shallow read, but entertaining at least. Constant pop culture references were kind of fun. Feels like it was written by a guy who was told that World of Warcraft was the internet, but never actually played it. Not much to recommend here unless you want a mindless time waster. Good beach read, I suppose....more
Adam Warren's art is as lush and dynamic as ever. There's few working artists I rate as highly as him. No question about it, thShort but sweet review:
Adam Warren's art is as lush and dynamic as ever. There's few working artists I rate as highly as him. No question about it, the art is consistently 5 star.
Adam Warren's writing is as hackneyed and forced as ever. Whether it's the unnecessary breaking of the 4th wall (brings nothing to the book, imo), the oddly censored curse words or just the randomly emphasized words in every speech bubble, Warren's style is grating.
The overall story is interesting and Emp's character growth are saving graces for otherwise average writing.
I would love it if once Empowered is finished, Warren teams up with a modern and skilled writer (Matt Fraction, Rick Remender, Mike Mignola... or hell, a Grant Morrison or Warren Ellis [Warren and Warren!]) where he can focus on contributing his astounding art to a book with dialogue that doesn't read like bad highschool writing. To whit, a random snippet of dialogue from a page opened to at random:
"Somebody done turned those ol' crazy tables, once again! Somebody's a notorious table-turner y'all! Somebody's got tables everywhereliving in fear! And guess what? That somebody's intials are E-M-P bitches!"
Sigh. At least this is some of the less egregious bolding and underlining.
Art 5 plus writing 2 in this case equals a four. I enjoyed looking at the book, but reading it was kind of a chore....more
First of all, I will admit that my complaint about the line from the prop**spoiler alert** Well, I'm glad I'm finished this series. Spoilers follow...
First of all, I will admit that my complaint about the line from the prophecy that reads "future of the world on his arms", turned out to be on purpose and make sense. However, the fact that I simply read it as Sanderson's odd/poor word choices speaks to my greatest issues with the Mistborn trilogy: Brandon Sanderson is just not a very good writer. I'll reiterate that he told a pretty darn good story, but the technical aspects of how he told it are, in my estimation, extremely amateurish.
So, it turns out all along that Vin is not the Hero of Ages. Sanderson spent his whole series making us believe that she would eventually take on that mantle, only to pull a fast one on us and give it to an entirely different character, Sazed.
I'm actually okay with this, because about half way through the third book I actually thought Vin probably wasn't going to be the Hero, and that it might be Elend. But no, instead Vin becomes a god and Sazed is our hero who turns the sky blue, the grass green and, I guess, levels all the cities and makes all the caves empty out in to the same field so that all our surviving characters can reunite.
After two books and over 1500 pages spend slowly destroying the world, everything is fixed in the span of 20 pages or so. I mean, I've heard of a happy ending where everything turns out super for the characters, but this was a bit much. It all felt a little too pat, to me. I'd rather have the world left in ruin, but with the knowledge that in time plants would grow, the ash would clear and humanity would rebuild. Instead, god does it for them. Well, I guess except that he left them without homes or shelter of any kind? Anyway...
That kind of leads me into another thing I wasn't wild about: religion. While I know that Sanderson in no way tries to hide his Mormon faith, and he doesn't really seem to be proselytizing in his novels, the focus on religion in Mistborn is a bit distracting. Even when he seems like his ragging on relgion (Sazed's task of eliminating the religions he's studied until he finds the "one true" religion), he ultimately comes back to it as something good. And of course, ultimately in the series god fixes everything. I take no issues with personal spirituality, but a lot of the time some parts of the Mistborn series felt like a thinly veiled attempt to promote religion, especially the Judeo-Christian duality of good vs evil/god vs satan that permeates much of the mythology of Mistborn.
Not a criticism per se, more of a personal peeve. It is what it is and doesn't ultimately detract from the series as a whole overmuch. It is as obvious as anything, though.
I enjoyed much of how the third book tied things together. The kandra, the koloss, allomancy and how it all were connected to Ruin and Preservation (not may favourite evil/good duality names ever, but...). Intricately woven and well plotted out, everything (mostly) made sense at the end of the book.
I preferred book two of the series best, as that was when we were given the most introspection and growth of the characters. Reading as Vin matured and how her relationship with Elend solidified was pleasing. Elend's transformation to Warrior Emperor was somewhat less convincing (his manly physique and beard were probably mostly responsible), but still enjoyable into the third book. Sazed moping around like a crybaby throughout most of book three had me aching to put him in a hole somewhere and forget about him. The power-grabbing kandra were a bit cliched, but tolerable, if entirely predictable.
I could go on about the things I didn't like, and while I only gave the book 3/5 stars, it was enjoyable for the most part, it's just harder to pin down the reasons that I liked it, and not as fun as tearing it apart. I read these novels based on a recommendation and really hadn't planned to go any further after reading the cliche filled first book. But, I had purchased book two before I finished it, so eventually I read it and that was enough that I needed closure so read the third.
What I can say is that while it's extremely difficult to write fantasy without bumping against a lot the cliches, Sanderson's world is fun. His magic system is fun, even if it is basically just dressed up super ninjas. His characters are flawed and believable within the context of the story, yet mostly likeable. The danger feels deadly and just enough characters that we know are killed that no one feels safe.
If you like fantasy books, chances are you'll like this. Get around all the religion junk, look past the clumsy wording prevalent throughout and you have a pretty enjoyable story. Personally, I've read all of Brandon Sanderson I need to for one lifetime, so even though I'm kind of intrigued about where his world is going in subsequent Mistborn novels, I just can't read anything else by him. At least, not for a long, long time.
Finally, I'll leave you with one conundrum: Ruin (and Preservation, I guess) are blinded by the presence of large amounts of metal. Ruin has been searching for his (his? the gods were once human, apparently. Vin being the main evidence of that) body, a body which has been transmuted into the metal atium on the earth. So, either Ruin doesn't know that atium is his body or he just never thought to send his minions to search in areas with high concentrations of metals. If it was you, wouldn't you think one of two things? A) this blinding mass of metal is my body, or B) maybe the metal that is my body is hidden with all that other metal.
So... Brandon Sanderson. Brandon has the same problem as JK Rowling: He's got a great story saddled with an horrible writing style.
Listen, don't getSo... Brandon Sanderson. Brandon has the same problem as JK Rowling: He's got a great story saddled with an horrible writing style.
Listen, don't get me wrong, The Well of Ascension was better than Mistborn. Mistborn felt like a mostly cliched fantasy novel with a neat new magic system. Ascension built on that with an interesting siege of the city of Luthadel, now freed from the Lord Ruler's tyranny. Based on a few reviews I read right as I was starting the book, I expected it to be boring and dull, but it was actually quite well done.
I also thought that Vin and Elend's relationship was handled well, for the most part, and the Zane character added a compelling wrinkle to the plot.
The last quarter of the book took a really satisfying turn and the ending twist was well played. After I got past the first 100 or so pages, I liked the book far more than I thought I would, despite my somewhat biased opinion of Sanderson as a bit of a bloat-writer who wasn't bringing anything that new to the table. I definitely will read book three.
That being said, I really am not fond of Sanderson's prose or style, for the most part. I think his word choices range from odd to plain bad a lot of the time, and as I noted in one of my progress updates, I can't stand most of his character names. It's like he just throws darts at an alphabet and hopes for consonants and vowels to alternate in a pronounceable way. Obviously when we are talking fantasy, pretty much anything goes, but most of his names are like the "moist"s or "phlegm"s of the English language; clunky, unpleasant, weirdly spelled or else they are just downright hokey. Seriously, look at this name: Gneorndin, and tell me that you don't want to punch something.
Honestly, those are my only real complaints with the Well of Ascension, take them for what you will. As far as modern fantasy novels go, Sanderson is doing some good things. However, reading about his 1000+ Way of Kings makes me think he's heading down the Robert Jordan/GRRM path, and this is not a good thing. We all love a good epic fantasy, but there are enough multi-thousand page epics out there already. Ascension was just a touch on the long side at 796 pages and probably could have easily lost 100 to 150 pages and been a tighter, more gripping read. The penchant to flesh everything out into these ponderous tomes is a mistake, in my opinion, as it'll keep readers like me away....more
Murakami hasn't lost any skill as a writer and I read Colorless Tsukuru... quite quickly. Unfortunately, the book was a bit of a letdown for me. I genMurakami hasn't lost any skill as a writer and I read Colorless Tsukuru... quite quickly. Unfortunately, the book was a bit of a letdown for me. I generally only write reviews when I really dislike a book, but I make exceptions for great authors that I love reading who disappoint me.
Not since After Dark have I been left so unfulfilled and wanting from a Murakami novel. Not that Colorless Tsukuru was by any means as terrible as I found After Dark, but I was mightily disappointed. As mentioned, Murakami's writing is as good as ever. His prose is terse and evocative and his style lends itself to keeping me interested and intrigued. I really felt though, that for the most part the book fell flat. From the reason that Tsukuru Tazaki's friends cut him out of his life, to his visits with those friends 16 years later, little of the signature Murakami weirdness was present. On top of it, everything seemed so easily resolved and mundane. The side plots were pointless (his friend Haida, Haida's story of his own father, even his romance with Sara) and were left so open ended as to be frustrating.
Tsukuru himself was classic Murakami; the loner Japanese man, interested in jazz and/or classical music, or at least familiar with it. Either intense interest or disinterest in food (Tsukuru often "feels no appetite" and eats mundane sparsely described meals, as opposed to other novels where meals receive paragraphs of detail). He is bland and featureless, or at least sees himself as so. Mildly successful, dedicated, stoic, quiet. Murakami too often seems to write the same character, all of which seem to be based somewhat on himself. That's all well and good, but Tsukuru is the zenith, or I suppose nadir, of the archetypal Murakami protagonist. Colorless indeed.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed Colorless Ttsukuru..., but I was hoping for so much more. The ambiguous ending, the seeming ease with which Tsukuru revisited his past, the easy reveal of the central mystery of the book and the lack of follow through there, all conspired to leave me dissatisfied. It pains me to review a Murakami book poorly (some would say 3/5 isn't poorly, but I have come to expect 5/5 from Haruki-san), but if I'm being honest this book really is only average for me.
Colorless Tsukuru is a good read for fans who await his output breathlessly, but it is a far cry from his earlier works like Hardboiled Wonderland..., Dance, Dance, Dance or even the fabulous and recent 1Q84. ...more
Originally I rated Ancillary Justice 3 stars, but after thinking about it, I think it deserves 4 stars, despite a few quibbles I had with it.
In fact,Originally I rated Ancillary Justice 3 stars, but after thinking about it, I think it deserves 4 stars, despite a few quibbles I had with it.
In fact, this was a very well written book, especially for one in which it felt like not a lot happened. I consider this to be quite a slow paced book, but Leckie was able to keep the storytelling compelling enough that it didn't matter. There were points that seemed to drag and I would wonder when we were getting to the point, but invariably it was worth the wait.
Breq, multi-faceted ship's AI reduced to existence within one human-like body, was an interesting concept, one that I think could have been expanded on even more. Or perhaps Ann Leckie has some more adventures of Breq planned for us. (I've just looked at Ann Leckie's Goodreads page and was pleasantly surprised to see Ancillary Sword set to come out this year)
Breq was once the AI in control of an enormous warship, controlling hundreds of "ancillaries", sort of independent units of herself, created from captured or dead humans. Each is linked with the others and all are Breq, yet if the connection is severed they act independently until they are reconnected. It's a really neat concept, similar to a few others I've encountered and I think that a lot more could have been done with it, though, ultimately, the plot cleverly incorporates the ancillary concept.
When we catch up with Breq, she's been reduced to her singular self and over time we learn how she became that way and what her goal is. The beginning, where we are introduced to Breq and her backstory is a bit of a slow burn, but worth the pay off in the end.
I would have definitely enjoyed more scenes with Breq being capable and bringing to bear her vast knowledge and experience and maybe showing off what her, presumably, cyborg body can do when pushed to it's limits. As it was, we got only brief glimpses into the true capabilities of Breq, and what she could do if needed.
For me there were only really two other noteworthy characters and one was only around for a portion of the book.
Lieutenant Awn and Seivarden are both introduced very early on, but one's story ends much sooner than the other. Which brings me to my first slight annoyance with the book.
I quite liked that Leckie made the choice to downplay gender roles significantly within her universe, however, I found that the way she treated them to be very confusing. Within the novel, Breq almost invariably refers to all other characters as "she", and yet some characters are described as being male-bodied - or at least masculine, yet Breq seems to ignore this. At other times, due to language barriers, Breq mis-genders some people and is corrected, but still refuses to correct herself. It felt to me like Leckie was making a statement about sex and gender, but it wasn't clear. Seivarden, for example, is ostensibly male, but Breq, even after discovering this refers to "him" as "her". Is this because Seivarden's gender role is female or because Seivarden is a male-bodied woman? I could never figure out the dynamics of this aspect of the book, and while it didn't detract from my enjoyment, I also noticed it whenever it came up.
(I read another review that states that in Breq's universe gender pronouns are neutral, but that Leckie chose to use "she" and "her" as defaults. I suppose this could be, since invented a gender-neutral pronoun could come across as hokey or lame. I'm not sure I entirely agree with this, but it does sound reasonable.)
Aside from that, the entire book was well done, though I did find the hierarchal structure and naming conventions of the ships and their ancillaries to be a bit obtuse. I think I mostly "got it", but it took more than a few chapters to become comfortable with the structure and rankings of the various ancillaries. That aspect did serve to make this far flung future for humanity more alien to me, which I appreciated.
I feel that the plot wrapped up a little too neatly and quickly, right at the end of the book. The way in which the antagonist is defeated seems like something that would have been a glaring omission in that reality. Because I've already mentioned this aspect, I'll engage in some minor spoilers: Breq's goal is to kill Anaander Mianaai, the tyrant leader of the The Radch (subtle association with Reich?), humanity's current political structure. Like Breq in her former incarnation as ship's AI with dozens, if not hundreds, of ancillary units Mianaai is also similarly fragmented/united. A simple communications blackout is used to prevent critical information from spreading to the Mianaais spread about the universe. Honestly, that seems like a huge oversight for entities that are so reliant on having a singular consciousness simultaneously acting across multiple units. I would think considerable research would be put in to preventing or correcting that scenario. Then again, absolutely no information is given on range of contact between ancillaries and the Anaander Mianaais and we're never explicitly informed that various Mianaai bodies may be light years apart or all within a certain minimum distance.
Regardless, the communications blackout seemed like far too simple a tactic to defeat such a god-like being, with near total control and obedience of all it's citizens. However, that being said, the tactic is established earlier in the book and it's consistent with the world Leckie has built, so while I may not think it's perfect, it works within the novel.
Anyway, a very enjoyable read and worth the price of admission. Looking forward to the next novel in this series, Ancillary Sword....more
An ok crime fiction book. Reasonably layered main character, suitable misdirection in the plot, completely underwhelming finale. Maybe the setting didAn ok crime fiction book. Reasonably layered main character, suitable misdirection in the plot, completely underwhelming finale. Maybe the setting didn't do it for me. In reading a Norwegian crime novel, I guess I wanted more Nordic flavour, and less Australian, but I read this one because it's the first one about the Harry Hole character. Pretty light reading, I'd recommend for summer fare, but don't expect too much out of it....more
I'd like to read the book in it's first published straight ahead fashion, to see how it differs. As for the Remix, while you do have to jump around liI'd like to read the book in it's first published straight ahead fashion, to see how it differs. As for the Remix, while you do have to jump around like a choose-your-own-adventure, the story is still easy to follow, perhaps simply because from chapter to chapter, paragraph to paragraph, sentence to sentence the narrative time jumps all over the place anyway. It seems in some ways that you could almost read each chapter in any order and it wouldn't change your enjoyment of the book. Well, I suppose it might if some of the twists and surprises were revealed too early.
It's my first Palahniuk book- and apparently the first he wrote but third to be published- so I'm not sure if the style of writing in Invisible Monsters is indicative of all his work. It comes across as more stream of consciousness rather than narrative and sometimes it feels like it's lacking punctuation, which caused me to have to pause a re-read a sentence here and there. Regardless, I did like his style, which I think matched the layout of the book itself. I liked his staccato rhythms and willingness to abandon "proper" writing for impact.
This felt like a really fast book to read. I read the first few chapters over two or three days, but I essentially read the bulk of the book over a few hours in bed and the next day during lulls at work. The whole thing really snaps along.
An enjoyable read, I'd recommend it. Nothing too seriously earth shattering, but maybe that's because so much in the world has changed since it's original publishing date in 1999, including myself, that a lot of what's in the book just doesn't seem that shocking or strange anymore. I imagine if I had read this as a 24yr old, I might have been seriously wowed by a lot in it, but with all I've read, seen and heard since '99 it was just a romping good story to me.
Regardless, Palahniuk is on my radar now and I think I'll give the infamous Fight Club a read....more
I hate that Banks' last Culture novel is probably the worst. Perhaps I'll write a more in depth review at some point, but for now I'm content to simplI hate that Banks' last Culture novel is probably the worst. Perhaps I'll write a more in depth review at some point, but for now I'm content to simply list a few observations in no particular order:
- Pyan, Vyr Cossont's scarf-like familiar. Why? It added nothing to the story, not even comic relief. So much of this book just felt like Banks' pumping up his word count.
- The whole sub-plot with the Ronte and Leiseiden aliens and their efforts to scavenge the soon-to-Sublime Gzilt civilization. Again, why? There was absolutely no pay off here.
- Septame Bansteygen, seemed like a lynchpin character but ultimately everything he did was absolutely pointless and had no bearing on the outcome of the plot.
- There's enough pointless, indulgent material that could have been stripped out to pare the book down to a very manageable size with a good ripping pace, it's too bad that there's probably not an editor alive that would have challenged or tried to reign in a dying Iain M Banks.
This whole book was an exercise in frustration for me. It felt like Banks was doing nothing more than writing the most convoluted, yet ultimately pointless, novel he could. I suspect, without caring to research it, that he knew his cancer was terminal before or very soon after he started the book, which is an easy explanation for QiRia, the oldest living human ever and his painfully boring character arc.
Frankly, the book was disappointing enough that a don't even care to trash it any further. You could almost literally skip to the last hundred pages, where things actually begin to tick along and enjoy a fairly entertaining Culture novella. ...more