The second book in George R. R. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, A Clash of Kings follows the tales of a kingdom divided, and the half...moreThe second book in George R. R. Martin's fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire, A Clash of Kings follows the tales of a kingdom divided, and the half a dozen self-styled Kings and Queen that vie for the Iron Throne.
Full Disclosure: I started reading this series because of the TV show. Game of Thrones on HBO was such an incredible experience, I had to continue it. I didn't feel like I could wait for the next seasons to know what happened next. I had also heard repeatedly how close the show was following the books. So I ordered all 4 (at the time, #5 has just released) and began to work my way through them. A Game of Thrones, the book that the first season of the show was based upon, was also fantastic. However, while I read it, I wasn't ever quite sure that I would have found it as engaging had I not seen it so brilliantly acted out on screen by Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage and the rest of the cast. So this book was going to be the true test of whether or not I'd still love the characters, setting and story of this fantasy universe.
Mission Accomplished: Everything about this book, as a continuation of the series, was absolutely perfect. It takes everything that works about the first book, and keeps it going. Martin's Point-of-View narrators are incredibly engaging characters, and each of them is surrounded by other equally interesting characters. All their stories weave together, allowing us to see both villains and heroes on most, if not all, sides of the epic struggle to gain (or keep) the Iron Throne. Both their triumphs and losses are tremendous, and the reader feels it all deeply.
The pacing of the book is fantastic. Most of the plot lines revolve around the tensions of the realm building, and building. And when the breaking point is finally reached, the already brisk-paced story speeds off to an amazing climax, with one of the most exciting battles I've ever read.
The Shorthand: While I don't imagine someone could fully enjoy this book without reading the first, even if they had watched the series, it could be enjoyed on its own merit. I would never recommend that, however, as the reader would be shortchanging themselves so much. Both A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings are solid, fantastic reads which I would recommend to anyone who's ever wished to swing a sword or ride a dragon.
This book was a bit harder for me to get through than the two previous. Not because it's not as great as the first two e...moreI ruined this book for myself:
This book was a bit harder for me to get through than the two previous. Not because it's not as great as the first two entries in this series, but because after a certain episode of the Game of Thrones TV show, I went looking to see (follow me here) what happened on the show really happened. So in finding out whether or not what happened on the show had really happened (Yes, it did.) I inadvertently spoiled some other things that would happen. I thought those things would probably be the climax, or near to the climax of this book. So the careful buildup to those events came across as painfully slow to me, and I found myself only interested in the other storylines.
I was, however, excited to find out that most of the things I had spoiled for myself ended up being in the midsection of the book, and once over that hurdle, the book and I were off and running again.
Much like A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings before it, A Storm of Swords ends up being fantastic. It slowly fills in some of the blanks and questions left over at the end of the second book, and poses a few more. All the while it builds the tension of several plot lines to their breaking points. Had I not spoiled this one for myself, I'm sure I'd see it as the best of the series, thus far. Since I did, I'd probably say I enjoyed the second book more. Spoiled or not, though, the book takes several twists and turns that are masterfully written and exciting to read. A definite 5/5. (less)
Andy Warner lost everything after his car crashed about 5 months ago. He lost his wife, his daughter, his friends, his home, his life. That's about wh...moreAndy Warner lost everything after his car crashed about 5 months ago. He lost his wife, his daughter, his friends, his home, his life. That's about when his body reanimated.
Breathers tells a story about a world where zombies are real, sentient, and seen as a gross nuisance to those they've left behind. They have no purpose, no civil rights, and no means of making any kind of a new life for themselves. If a zombie decides to venture out in the world, they're mocked and shunned by day, and actively hunted by frat boys by night.
So Andy spends his days drinking his parents expensive wine and watching terrible daytime TV. He spends most of his nights the same way. Twice a week he meets with his Undead Anonymous support group. Things stay pretty well the same, until Andy meets a new friend, and decides to start encouraging social change.
I'm not normally one for sentient zombie stories, unless they are particularly funny. With a story that revolves around support groups, undead civil rights and secrecy, Breathers feels like it wants to mix 2 parts Fight Club with one part Tru Blood, and for the most part it works.
The pacing of the book is dreadfully slow for at least the first half. It seems like Browne is trying very hard early on to create an undead Jack the Narrator, having Andy visit his support group, frequented by a mysterious and attractive female zombie, while bemoaning his mundane existence by writing witty haiku.
It starts to pick up around the halfway point. From there, we take some pretty predictable turns as Andy attempts to slowly become an undead Tyler Durden. Finally, though, in the last 30 or 40 pages Browne realized "Hey, I'm writing a book about zombies, here." and really livened things up. The end of the book was good enough, and surprising enough that I strongly considered a 4th star on the rating.
It's not enough though. At least 150 of the 310 pages are meandering whining, or Andy redundantly relaying how miserable he is. The dialogue and narrative are written well enough, but the story, the real meat of it, just takes too long to get into.
This is not, and isn't trying to be, The Walking Dead. Overall, I definitely liked the book, and I'd recommend it to fans of Young Adult fiction, and lighthearted undead fiction.(less)
**spoiler alert** It took me several attempts to finish this book. I just didn't feel like it was giving me what I wanted out of a Vampire Chronicles...more**spoiler alert** It took me several attempts to finish this book. I just didn't feel like it was giving me what I wanted out of a Vampire Chronicles novel. I still can't quite put my finger on why that is, though.
It's not like I went into the book expecting anything that I didn't get. The series had constantly questioned about God, the devil, and humanity and vampires' lot in existence. The title here outright introduces us to Memnoch the Devil. Clearly this book is going to answer, or at least outline the origin of the above question. Knowing Rice's work, it obviously has to involve a long, beautiful described mythology, just slightly altered from what we may have already heard about. And I did like Memnoch and Lestat's journey through the origins of creationist evolution.
So, if that's what I expected, and I liked the story I got, why didn't I like the book? I guess it's just not what I wanted the book to be. I really feel that I wanted to be surprised by the turns creatiolution took. Or that I wanted Lestat to find some way to shockingly challenge the rules of God or the Devil. Or to see or hear more of the other vampires. I honestly can't pinpoint what I would have liked the book to be. I just know I didn't want what I did get.
This book seems to be one of the most divisive titles in the Chronicles. It makes sense though. Many people were disappointed, like myself. However, seeing how this book does ask and answer questions that have been prominent themes through out the series, I totally understand why some might hail it as the best of the series. The Vampire Chronicles touch on many themes, and they're not all for everyone. So when an entire novel gets dedicated to one that you might not care so much about, it ends up disappointing. (less)
I'm not the target demographic this book was written for. This was clearly written for a much younger, much female-r, audience. Judging from the cover...moreI'm not the target demographic this book was written for. This was clearly written for a much younger, much female-r, audience. Judging from the cover, I thought that might be the case, but since it said "Zombie" and I remember enjoying R.L. Stine Fear Street, and Christopher Pike stuff back in Jr. High (and it was cheap) I thought, "Why not?"
Personally, I found the book to be slow paced, with little to no action. But, I'm pretty sure that's exactly what I'd think of any YA suspense novel if I were to read it today.
I think that, for a 10-14 year old girl that is into "spooky" novels, this would be a hit. Its main character, Hannah, seems believable enough to me. The school setting is familiar, if not from personal experience, than from just about any book or film about High School Popularity Contests. The author also does a decent enough job of making you wonder what exactly is going on at Maplecrest High.
Target audience aside, there is one nagging flaw in the book that really makes me judge it harshly. It seems, to me, that the author doesn't exactly understand the difference between vampire and zombie. Both are undead, but they are vastly different. I would argue that the creatures that Hannah's friend, Lukas, fears would be Vampires, and not Zombies.
I know that's splitting hairs; but if you read the book (and know your monster lore) you'll come out feeling like novel was originally written with vampires in mind, and later, the editor used Ctrl-F to find each instance of the word vampire, and replace it with zombie.
I wouldn't feel the least bit bad giving this book a single star rating. I'm going to give it 2 stars, though. I do feel like it is a good fit for what I believe the target audience to be, I just didn't enjoy it enough to be able to give it any higher than a 2.(less)
Another really solid entry in the series. Better than the last one, but not quite on par with the first three. I was really hoping for an epic ending,...moreAnother really solid entry in the series. Better than the last one, but not quite on par with the first three. I was really hoping for an epic ending, like Clash's Blackwater Battle, though. 5 Stars, regarless.(less)