What a fascinating follow-up to "1491"! This book deals with some of the changes that the "discovery" of the Americas wrought on the world stage - notWhat a fascinating follow-up to "1491"! This book deals with some of the changes that the "discovery" of the Americas wrought on the world stage - not just in Europe, but also in Asia and Africa. Different chapters focus on different topics, such as malaria, the potato, or silver. Very interesting, and an under-explored area of history!...more
I was very interested in the first few chapters, where Ye Wenjie is being chewed up by the Cultural Revolution. Once it abandoned her storyline for thI was very interested in the first few chapters, where Ye Wenjie is being chewed up by the Cultural Revolution. Once it abandoned her storyline for the present, I lost interest completely. There's just too much scientific info-dumping and not enough interesting characters....more
So you ever finish a book and then wonder what the hell it was about? That was Number9Dream, and even though I'm pretty sure I didn't understand it, ISo you ever finish a book and then wonder what the hell it was about? That was Number9Dream, and even though I'm pretty sure I didn't understand it, I loved it. Reality and unreality are interwoven throughout the text, in the form of daydreams, real dreams, flashbacks and stories. Eiji's "real" life becomes progressively more and more unrealistic, but Mitchell keeps the story grounded in Eiji's emotional center so it never quite becomes absurd. I wish I were still a Lit major, so I could write a paper about this book. As it is, I may have to read it again to unpick some of its threads. ...more
This book is basically a 360-page metaphysical discussion masquerading as a novel. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it - it's just odd.
At the eThis book is basically a 360-page metaphysical discussion masquerading as a novel. Which is not to say that I didn't enjoy it - it's just odd.
At the end of the last volume, you may remember, the story wandered into the realm of fantasy, with beings coming into existence from nothing and wishes literally making things happen. This volume continues from there. Gone is the intriguing alien mystery and world building of of Speaker for the Dead, and instead characters spend a lot of time talking about the nature of life, the soul, and relationships. I stuck with it because:
a) I've come to care for Jane, Miro, Peter, and especially Si Wang Mu, and I wanted to know what happened to them.
b) The philosophical ramblings were actually kind of interesting.
Overall, this book felt like a bit of an afterthought, and when another cool alien mystery pops up (view spoiler)[Miro, Ela, Quara and Val/Jane find the planet of the aliens who invented the descolada virus, and they seem to communicate by making biomanipulative molecules (hide spoiler)] it goes nowhere and remains unsolved. A good read, but not as compelling as the earlier volumes....more
This book is so weird. It really doesn't fit into the "rules" that other books unconsciously follow.
There are multiple narrators, which isn't so unusThis book is so weird. It really doesn't fit into the "rules" that other books unconsciously follow.
There are multiple narrators, which isn't so unusual - but some just narrate a handful of chapters, just one, even. The plot doesn't follow the traditional arc, but meanders around a lot - covering years of time where not much happens. Some fantasy/magical elements are introduced, but are just hinted at and remain mostly obscure. This book is a mess - so why did I like it so much? The characters. Mitchell creates characters so real and compelling that I loved my time with them, even if it was just one chapter, and had to find out what happened to them in the end. I also loved how this tied in to The Bone Clocks - especially with the appearance of Marinus. ...more
This book provides an interesting window into the life of a young girl growing up in Pakistan as the Taliban encroaches more and more on civil and womThis book provides an interesting window into the life of a young girl growing up in Pakistan as the Taliban encroaches more and more on civil and women's rights. This is not a story full of action - but a picture of a specific time, place and culture through the eyes of one girl. Malala's love of her country and faith, as well as her passion for the education of girls, comes through strongly. This book drove home how reprehensible the Taliban really is - imagine not only shooting a fifteen-year-old girl in the head because she wants to go to school, but honestly believing it's the right thing to do!
Similar titles: Persepolis Marzi Zlata's Diary...more
I read this because I wanted to know more about the Boxer Rebellion after reading Gene Yang's Boxers and Saints (great books in their own right). And,I read this because I wanted to know more about the Boxer Rebellion after reading Gene Yang's Boxers and Saints (great books in their own right). And, while this book does not delve into the historical context of the rebellion, it does a great job of showing us some ordinary people who got caught up in it.
We meet Eva and Charles Price and their children through the letters Eva sends home from China. The Prices are missionaries, so their primary goal is to do some soul saving abroad, but they also help teach women to read and run a clinic for opium addicts. Sadly, these dedicated people endure one tragedy after another, and then the biggest one of all when the Boxer Rebellion overtakes them.
This is a very intimate portrait of family life as well as a glimpse into history and I enjoyed it very much. You may worry, given the age of the book, that it would be a bit racist -- but despite the occasional patronizing tone the Prices genuinely seem to care about the people they meet in China and want to help, rather than viewing them with contempt. It's weird that an editorial note comments that they "couldn't comprehend that their ideas were harmful to the people of China" -- I didn't see that at all. How could the idea of Christianity itself - absent from any compulsion to convert - be harmful? If I was looking for something that harmed China during that period, opium would be my number one candidate....more
Linh Cinder is a hardworking mechanic in New Beijing, but it's hard to get ahead when you have no legal rights. Because Cinder is a cyborg, she is conLinh Cinder is a hardworking mechanic in New Beijing, but it's hard to get ahead when you have no legal rights. Because Cinder is a cyborg, she is considered the property of her bitter stepmother, who takes Cinder's earnings for her own daughters. A chance encounter with the prince, and a chance encounter with the plague, change Cinder's life forever, plunging her into a world of political intrigue. The Queen of the Moon wants to control the Earth, and somehow, she holds the secret of Cinder's forgotten past.
This book seems super cool. Cyborg Cinderella! Who wouldn't love that? Also, the cover is awesome. But the book itself was just so...blah. Just a chapter and a half into the book, the whole Cinderella angle started feeling really forced. Like when she finds an old car in a junkyard and says it "looks like a pumpkin." It's like "Here it is, fans! Look, allusions!" The majority of them added nothing to the story and if they had been ommitted it would have only made the story stronger. The ridiculous focus on the ball for instance. It was just so contrived, making it the actual climax of the book was a terrible decision. This is a future China with cyborgs, people! Your climactic scene should been on a spaceship or something!
Cinder also suffers from just...weird writing. Most of the time, when I read a book, I don't focus on the author's word choice and phrasing, but in this case, once every few chapters there would be a sentence that made me sit up and say "huh?". For example, regarding the prince and his problems with the Queen of Luna: "His pulse began to filter the thoughts of murder from his blood." Someone please tell me wtf that means, because I have no idea. It's not poetic, it's just weird, and an editor should have caught it before it saw the light of day.
And another thing...was anybody else bothered by the fact that the "Cyborg Draft" -- in which government doctors conduct lethal plague research on cyborgs -- is going on under the prince's nose and he does nothing to stop it? This is supposed to be a sympathetic character! A love interest, even!
Recommended for fans of fantasy-flavored scifi. ...more
Young Mary Quinn has become a fully-fledged Agent and is on her first case in Buckingham Palace. While Mary hunts a petty thief, a more serious probleYoung Mary Quinn has become a fully-fledged Agent and is on her first case in Buckingham Palace. While Mary hunts a petty thief, a more serious problem erupts -- Bertie the Prince of Wales witnesses a murder, and the killer has a strange connection to her. Also, a sinister scheme is unfolding right under her nose that might threaten the Royal Family itself.
I liked this book in theory -- a female person of color solving mysteries in Victorian England! -- but the threads of the story didn't quite tie together for me. As the emotional groundwork for character relationships had already been laid in past volumes, the author takes shortcuts with it here. For example, Mary's romance with the sultry James seems to be shoehorned into the story awkwardly without much emotional weight. This book is a light, exciting read for historical fiction and mystery fans, but it's nothing special.
Recommended for fans of: The Season The Ruby in the Smoke The Enola Holmes Mystery Sorcery and Cecelia...more
In the future, robots are everywhere, making human life safer and easier...until researchers create an AI called Archos that becomes too intelligent.In the future, robots are everywhere, making human life safer and easier...until researchers create an AI called Archos that becomes too intelligent. Archos deems humanity a risk to the life of the planet and unleashes swarms of domestic and military robots to bring humanity down to more manageable levels. This is the story of those humans who fought back.
As far as apocalypses go, the robot apocalypse is a classic, tapping into our fundamental unease about being dependent on technologies we don't fully comprehend. And this book certainly brings the gore and the action -- robots are chopping people up and crushing faces left and right. The story loses some of its disaster-movie punch, however, by choosing to go the "World War Z" route and hop between a large cast of geographically diverse characters. Although I liked seeing the Osage Nation and an elderly Otaku workto end the robot revolution in completely different ways, I felt I never got to know any one of them enough to really care about the terrible things that happen to them. Some of the characterization of Archos and the Freeborn robots also struck me as uneven. I know it's hard to write from the point of view of a robot, but Mr. Wilson, that's what you chose to do. So don't just give me some half-assed characterization, ok? Still, I can see why this was an Alex Award winner -- I'm sure teens will eat it up. This one's going on my summer reading booktalk list for sure....more
Three ill-fated teens are collected at the moment of their deaths and charged with policing the integrity of time itself. Their first assignment -- toThree ill-fated teens are collected at the moment of their deaths and charged with policing the integrity of time itself. Their first assignment -- to find out who changed history to turn New York into a blasted wasteland, and go back in time to stop them.
This book is exciting and good for fans of action, but it isn't amazing. The characters aren't compelling, and frankly some of the book's moral implications are disturbing and could have been mined for more drama.
Recommended for fans of: Timeline (Michael Chricton) Dr. Who novels...more