An imaginative collection of short stories. Link had a vivid sense of story-telling in that these pieces pull you in and keep you on your toes. You neAn imaginative collection of short stories. Link had a vivid sense of story-telling in that these pieces pull you in and keep you on your toes. You never know quite were they're going, or what will happen next. It keeps you reading up to the end.
The themes are highly creative, the writing vivid an evocative.
However, because Link strays far from the normal modes of story-telling, the pieces just...end. There aren't any endings, the stories stop. It's up to the reader to provide closure and meaning.
I admire her obvious gift for creating new worlds, new images. But I missed greatly the closure that comes with the more mundane flow of plot.
I suspect that I'm just the wrong audience for her work. ...more
I see why this book won a Hugo, as the writing was engaging, the science interesting but not overwhelming. Ultimately, the book is character-driven, tI see why this book won a Hugo, as the writing was engaging, the science interesting but not overwhelming. Ultimately, the book is character-driven, though the event that precipitates the book and the science are very much at the fore.
I did feel that the end occurred too quickly, and some of the reveals felt a bit... forced. Or not needed at all.
Also, the views on religion in the book are very finely focused on a very particular American version of Christianity, and I found myself wondering how other cultures or even other versions of Christianity would have handled the Spin. But there was probably not enough time to deal with that.
I read this book as part of a Recent works in Science Fiction/Fantasy Genre reading course as part of the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University....more
Full disclosure: I count this author as a friend. She is one of the instructors of the grad program from which I graduated.
I enjoyed this book quite aFull disclosure: I count this author as a friend. She is one of the instructors of the grad program from which I graduated.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I'm quite glad it didn't stray into the predictable, where the book-burners are the evil bad guys. No, everyone was very human, full of foibles and goodness. I didn't quite understand exactly what happened at the end... it wasn't as clear as I would have liked, but I was also glad that not everything was tied up so neatly. Granted, first book of a trilogy, so...
One thing I did wonder, though, was why there seemed to be no graphical art represented in the world? You've got the written word, and you have the sung word, but pictures also tell stories.
It was nice to experience Anne Frank's Diary again, through different eyes. And certainly, this book points out the power of stories and words and song. A good read for lovers of stories....more
One of the things I have greatly enjoyed about this series of books is that I don't need to reread the previous books when the next comes out. While iOne of the things I have greatly enjoyed about this series of books is that I don't need to reread the previous books when the next comes out. While it certainly helps to have read the others, each works well as a standalone. And each of the previous books is memorable enough that re-reading is not required.
The drawback is that Reader and Raelynx--nominally about Cammon, played double duty. It really held two stories: Cammon's growing love for Amalie and Senneth's final showdown with the Gisseltess's. It is both a romance and the final wrap-up of the political plot started in Mystic and Rider.
If both stories had not gripped me so, I think I would have given it three stars. However, once I got over the initial "Oh, darn it! we've switched character focus!" I was still sucked into the story and didn't skip ahead.
So Shinn pulled off the double-duty just fine. ...more
This was the common reading book for the June 09 residency of the Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction Masters of Arts (now Masters of Fine Arts) prograThis was the common reading book for the June 09 residency of the Seton Hill Writing Popular Fiction Masters of Arts (now Masters of Fine Arts) program, as a study in Young Adult fiction.
There were painful things about this book, as it is all about high school and what kids do to each other therein. It's also about a young woman's decent into depression and suicide. Hannah Baker, a girl from Clay Jenson's school has committed suicide. She leaves behind a set of old cassette tapes on which she has recorded 13 reasons why she killed herself and each person on the tapes receives the box of them in sequence.
It's Clay's turn.
I wavered between 3 stars and 4. I can't say I liked the book, per se, but it is a well written and clever book. It alternates between the present view point of Clay Jensen, a nice kid, and Hannah's taped monologues as Clay listens to them. It pulls you in quickly and keeps you there. It's also a very fast read. You want to know who did what, as each indecent gets worse. And where is Clay on the tapes? What did he do?
So from the technical aspect of the book, it shines. It does all the things a book should do.
But as an adult, it had me curling my toes. Partly because I remember the casual cruelty of teens and there's a bit of a visceral reaction to that. Partly because poor Clay would have to live with knowing all of these things for the rest of his life.
If he were a real kid, I'd hope he talk to his parents eventually and get some therapy. Thankfully, he's just fiction.
The positive side of this book is that I do think it causes kids to stop and *think* about how what they say and do affects those around them.
The negative side was that in the end, I didn't believe Hannah's story. Oh, I think the events happened, but I didn't believe all of her reactions to them. She was the quintessential unreliable narrator. And I think what she did (especially close to the end) was horrible and selfish. She took no responsibility for her actions and shifted the blame... *all the blame* on everyone else. Did they play a part in what happened? Yes, but so did she.
If I could give it 3.5 stars I would.
I do completely get why teens would love this book, however. It's full of angst and taps so very well into the high school experience. ...more
Another fun Harry Dresden book. Again, you can read this without reading much of the series (I've read only Storm Front, Fool Moon, and White Night) aAnother fun Harry Dresden book. Again, you can read this without reading much of the series (I've read only Storm Front, Fool Moon, and White Night) and not be lost at all.
I suppose the counter to this would be that he does tend to go over stuff that happened before, but I didn't find it intruding.
There were some eye-rolling moments, especially with Harry's exclamations ("Hells Bells" over and over), but overall, a fairly solid showing....more
More like a 3.5. I enjoyed this one better than the first...the story held together better as we got more information about the Souleaters and the WraMore like a 3.5. I enjoyed this one better than the first...the story held together better as we got more information about the Souleaters and the Wrath.
I'll read the last book, since I own it and would like to know how the trilogy ends....more
I read this critical analysis as part of my term reading for the Masters of Writing Popular Fiction program I'm in at Seton Hill University.
UltimatelyI read this critical analysis as part of my term reading for the Masters of Writing Popular Fiction program I'm in at Seton Hill University.
Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that this book is not a good critical analysis of genre fantasy. The author glosses over much of the fantasy writing of the late 20th century and early 21st century and dwells to heavily on works from the 19th century or works that aren't really genre fantasy. It does mention Harry Potter, which is good, but does not mention any fantasy works in the 40-odd years between Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
There is an interesting discussion of utopic fiction, so if you're looking for more about utopias/dystopias, it might be an interesting read.
But as an introduction to the fantasy genre, it was not very useful.
Surprisingly good. I read this in about two days over Christmas. I forgot to bring something to read when I went to my parents, and my mother had takeSurprisingly good. I read this in about two days over Christmas. I forgot to bring something to read when I went to my parents, and my mother had taken this out of the library.
It was engaging and fascinating, especially the description of Jewish life during the time of the Temple. It's a fairly easy read, and yet spiritual too.
I pretty much had expected a crappy book and was very pleased to find an engaging one, instead....more
**spoiler alert** This is the second of my genre readings this term for the Masters in Writing Popular Fiction program I'm in.
Interestingly, when I st**spoiler alert** This is the second of my genre readings this term for the Masters in Writing Popular Fiction program I'm in.
Interestingly, when I started this book, I mentally gave it a four out of five. When I got to the middle, I revised to 3 out of 5, but by the time I got to the end, I was back up to 4 out of 5. Overall, I think the whole Trilogy gets a 4.5 out of 5 from me.
First the annoying: The largest issue I had was with the quotes Sanderson uses at the beginning of each chapter. In the first book, it was excerpts from a log book the characters found that detailed the journey of the first Hero of Ages. In the second book, it was quotes from a metal plate that the characters found that detailed how the quest for the Well of Ascension went very very wrong. In this book, it's the recording of the thoughts of the character who becomes the Hero of Ages.
What that character records is very world-buildy. Almost too much. It's more or less a scientific study of the world, what happened with the Lord Ruler (who was killed in book 1) and how the magic system works. It tells. A lot. In fact, it tells some things before the characters are shown finding out the same thing. It also pretty much let me know who the Hero of Ages was, since Sanderson is a good enough writer that you can figure out which characters are speaking by how they speak. So, a bit spoiled by the before-chapter quotes, and a bit bounced out by all the world-building stuff.
Because I'm sensitive to such things now, I was also pulled out of the story by the number of times Elend Venture sighs. At one point, Elend and Vin go to a ball in the city they have under siege, and I swear Elend (who is an Emperor at this point) sighs through the whole thing. Sigh. Sigh Sigh.
Sazed wanders about being consumed by the loss of his love and ends up going though all of the religions he has studied as a Keeper (more or less a secret society of people who kept information alive that the Lord Ruler tried to suppress) and deciding if any are true. He's lost his faith and tries to gain it back through logic and reason. Unfortunately, there's almost too much of his "woe, I've lost my faith" going on. It crossed over, at least for me, from feeling bad for the character into wanting to smack him a few times. Kind of like Elend's sighing all the time.
The book drags the the middle. It's a lot of slogging about in ash and though there *should* be tension, what with an army sitting siege outside a town, it doesn't carry through, especially when either Elend of Sazed are POV characters. This changes dramatically at the end, though.
Now, the good: An improvement over the middle book is that Elend (when he's not sighing or tromping though ash, but being an active leader) and another character, Spook, become the charismatic characters that you want to root for, just like Kelsier was in the first book of the series.
Vin and Elend's relationship finally feels real. There is a real love and understanding between the characters that fell flat in the previous books.
While many of the characters have already gone through their growing arcs, Spook had not, and he grows in leaps and bounds in this book, as does the Kandra (a kind of changeling being) TenSoon. I found the sections of the books from these two POVs moved at a much better pace in the middle than the others.
Sanderson does an excellent job of making things worse and worse for his characters. Even though I found the middle of the book hard to slog though, you do get a sense that the characters are also finding everything hard to slog through... the ash piled up to their chest, the mists that sicken and kill, their plans thwarted at every turn.
We also discover that the evil Lord Ruler wasn't actually so evil after all. He just gained the power of a god and screwed up royally at first. But then he tried to set things right as best he could and also tried to set things up so that the world had a chance of surviving should he die.
Good does not necessarily overcome evil, as neither Preservation nor Ruin can actually be thought of as good or evil. They're natural forces. The Lord Ruler taking Preservation's power nearly resulted in the destruction of the world... and evil outcome. He set it as right as he could, but the result was an oppressive, dark world. However, freeing Ruin only made things worse. Ruin does come very close to being evil, especially when his personified form gloats and delights in destruction. But even then, you get the sense that it is just reveling in its own nature.
Certainly many of the Lord Ruler's actions in creating the creatures he created is evil. Steel inquisitors, for instance, are created by driving metal spikes though one person (thus killing them) into another, to transfer the powers of one to the other.
But the heroes of the book, Vin and Elend, are also consummate killers, as are all Mistborn. However, they also desire to preserve, to save themselves and their people.
The whole trilogy is about the lack of balance between two forces, Ruin and Preservation. Preservation wanted to create life and gave a bit of himself to do so, thus tipping the worldly balance between it and Ruin toward Ruin. Ruin, of course, is entropy and only wishes to destroy. Preservation used much of its power to trap Ruin to keep it from destroying the world.
Vin freed Ruin and Preservation is not strong enough to oppose him. Thus the fight isn't so much about people vs. people, but people trying to survive the end of the world and fight against a personified version of entropy.
In the end, the Hero of Ages must take both the power of Ruin and Preservation to balance the forces and set the world aright. So, no all prevailing Good, but a god who controls both the powers of Ruin and Preservation. A god who is powerful, but not omniscient, who still has some mortal foibles.
When the first book came out, the marketing suggested that Sanderson was tipping fantasy tropes on their head, but really, he hasn't. It *is* the Hero's Journey, complete with Hero perceiving both the divine and mortal worlds (since he was mortal and became a god) and returning to grant a boon to mankind (in the form of a fixed world, free of the mistakes and "fixes" the Lord Ruler imposed). Its just that Sanderson does a fantastic job at misdirection. The Hero isn't who you think it is and much of the backstory to the world remains hidden until the last book.
He's also good at weaving seemingly unimportant details and quirks throughout the trilogy and making them into important plot points in the end, so you get this sense of wonder of "Wow, he hinted at all of this from the beginning!" It all leads to an ending that is satisfying and makes sense.
But because I got my undergraduate degree from CMU, deconstruction center of the universe, I can't help but also look at the writer and his personal influences. It wasn't evident in the first book, but by the second book, I got the creeping sense of Sanderson's religious views influencing the plot. It's not wrong or bad, but it also kind of ended up being a kind of spoiler for the third. Sanderson is a member of the Church of the Later Day Saints (Mormons), so the outcome of one of the characters becoming god was more of a "Oh, yeah ok." thing with me rather than a big walloping ending. It's kind of like Aslan rising from the dead. It makes *sense* given his worldview. So does the little bit he dropped in that suggests that Ruin and Preservation are just shards of some larger cosmic power.
What I took away from this novel, in terms of my own writing, is how to more subtlety weave in quirks that lead to important plot points, the utter importance of not having your characters bobble-head too much (or in this case sigh).
As always, Sanderson's magic system is fabulous. Studying how he develops his systems and their limitations and consequences is a great way to learn how to build your own systems. And while they popped me out of the story, the before-chapter quotes are a great study in world-building.
And, I have to say, he's a nice, personable guy. I went to a book signing last year, and they more or less had to kick us all out because he was willing to stay as long as he could to interact with his fans and answer questions. His website has a wealth of information about his books, including annotations of each chapter. If nothing else, it's a look into the mind of one writer and how and why he did what he did to his characters....more