I felt like the series was starting to stagnate, but this was a much needed change. I'm interested to see where things go from here. The rest will hav...moreI felt like the series was starting to stagnate, but this was a much needed change. I'm interested to see where things go from here. The rest will have spoilers so read at your own risk.
The series has been going through a cycle of danger, recovery, and calm (typically in that order). This time the writers decided to cut time between dangers down to almost nothing. Rick ended the last book agreeing to hunt down a gang in exchange for food. It was nice to see him act more aggressively, and realize that one of the best things they had going for them was that they were battle tested, killing machines. After so many volumes of being meek, it was a nice change of pace and you felt like it made sense.
Of course it's never as simple as all that. Rick and everyone get attacked on the way back and end up decimating their attackers. Rick then lays out a warning to Negan that he and his gang need to leave the hill top alone or Rick's crew will wreck his world. Negan doesn't listen and ambushes 2 people outside the compound after Rick and the rest get back. Rick's people decimate that group as well.
Rick then gets the idea that Negan and his group may be a bigger threat that he initially thought and wants so go back to the hill top to get more info, soldiers, and or weapons (but primarily info). This plan is as stupid as it sounds. They get lost on the way and end up having to spend a night between "cities".
This results in their group getting captured by Negan, and him beating one of them to death while the others are unable to fight back. The trip to the Hill top gets them nothing (not even any good information), and they return home only to find that it too has been attacked. The survivors were able to repel the attack, and Negan's guys took even more losses, but it's revealed that they have enough people that Rick's people can't kill all of them.
The survivors were able to capture one of the attackers though. The graphic novel ends with Rick calling a meeting and telling everyone that they can't beat Negan and that they need to surrender, and that they need to release the prisoner. Nobody likes it. After giving the speech Rick talks to Jesus and tells him to chase down the prisoner they just released and recapture him so they can interrogate him, implying that the lie was so that nobody else in the "city" would be punished if what he's trying fails.
It was a satisfying end to the story, but leaves me wondering how it will all play out. I doubt Negan is the type to care if the city knew about Rick's plans, and that they might still be punished for his actions. I get the feeling that whatever happens will result in Rick having to leave the "city" after it all plays out, either because he lied to the group, or because it gets destroyed by Negan. The series thrives on chaos and danger, and Rick is getting too comfortable in his current place for him to be allowed to stay there much longer without the authors feeling the need to manufacture dangers for him to deal with.
With the way the series has gone I have a hard time thinking it ends well. (less)
Interesting plot development, but even the new bit feels a little too deja vu. We've seen something like this before and while it plays out differentl...moreInteresting plot development, but even the new bit feels a little too deja vu. We've seen something like this before and while it plays out differently, it makes me worry that this series is starting to go into a downward spiral of "thing A happens, thing B happens, thing C happens. Now wash rinse repeat with mild variation each cycle." I may be concerned for nothing, but the series has been going on for a while and it gets harder and harder not to repeat things too much. We'll see how it goes...(less)
This book was a great conclusion to the Quarantined series. It was fun getting to know Jordan better and seeing how he and Alissa dealt with new probl...moreThis book was a great conclusion to the Quarantined series. It was fun getting to know Jordan better and seeing how he and Alissa dealt with new problems. Syd adds a new element to their struggles to survive as well, which was interesting to watch. It's a journey that changes them all and it was a lot of fun to go on it with them. I highly recommend this book.(less)
This book left me pretty frustrated and wishing I'd spent my time on a more deserving book.
The first half of the story revolves around Severian gettin...moreThis book left me pretty frustrated and wishing I'd spent my time on a more deserving book.
The first half of the story revolves around Severian getting kicked out of the guild for something he did. It takes forever to happen, and doesn't really make much sense compared to the way he acts throughout the rest of the book. The second half focused on his getting sent to another village for some convenient reason but never making it far from the city because he wanders from place to place without ever actually trying to get to his goal. Instead he seems to be actively looking at this or that random thing and getting embroiled in some new bit of BS ever couple pages.
The world didn't do much for me either. It's something between fantasy and sci-fi. It's set in an Earth hundreds or thousands of years in the future so that most is medieval, but there are random chunks of technology here and there.
they had a piece of plot about how he saved a famous rebel from being killed and ends up possessing the equivalent of the Holy Grail but NOTHING comes of either thing. Maybe it's being saved for later in the series but it did nothing to further the first book besides take up additional pages.
All in all, this story left me frustrated and unfulfilled.
Oh yeah and the whole story is being told to you like the main character's memoirs so you know no matter what, he's going to survive so even the hints of danger (the few there are) aren't very threatening. Some authors are good enough to make you forget the story is being told by the character in danger so that risk feels real, but this book isn't one of them. The parts where Severian is talking in the present are really really boring and contribute very little so all it does is pull you out of the story so it can bore you.(less)
I had high hopes for this book since it combines mythology and Asian culture (specifically Japanese), but ended up not really enjoying the book. I thi...moreI had high hopes for this book since it combines mythology and Asian culture (specifically Japanese), but ended up not really enjoying the book. I think my expectations may have been a bit too high since it was given a glowing review by Patrick Rothfuss (who I view as a great author). I assumed that any book he was impressed by had to be good, but in the end it wasn't. The initial portion of the story is spent beating you over the head with how messed up the environment is and how the Lotus is killing everything. I felt like there was more of that than actual character development. The author uses a lot of imagery to describe the destruction being caused but it feels repetitious because the descriptions get recycled a lot. I don't remember how many times I heard "poison" but it was a lot and took me out of the story becaues I stated getting annoyed with hearing it so much. The plot is interesting and has some good framework to go off of, but the finer details are not filled in very skillfully. Instead I found myself recognizing a lot of Anime/Manga cliches. I'm sure they were an influencing factor in the author's creative process, but it would have been nice to see more creativity, as it all feels like a story that was cobbled together from other places. If done with a lot of skill that could have worked, but I just get the feeling that the author needs more polish. I'm not trying to be a dick about this, it's just that there is virtually no subtlety to anything that happens. If a character makes a decision the reasoning is telegraphed and drilled into you so you can possible misconstrue it. If a secret is revealed EVERYONE knows about it within seconds whether there's a reason they would or not. One of the twists was so obvious I wondered how the main character could have NOT known it. I wanted to like this book and the premise was interesting, but the execution was weak and it felt like most of it was borrowed for others anyway. I'd recommend picking up some Manga, or watching an anime rather than reading this since you'll get about the same thing.(less)
I think that like many classic books that defined their genre this one has a certain inherent value. However as someone 30 years late to this party it...moreI think that like many classic books that defined their genre this one has a certain inherent value. However as someone 30 years late to this party it doesn't feel as impressive as I'm sure it once did.
The world Gibson imagines is intriguing and the cyberpunk style the he helped create permeates this story giving it a cool feeling. It almost comes off a bit NOIR at times with mysteries around every corner trying to accomplish some task with the authorities as obstacles to circumvent. The descriptions and feelings in this book are really good, but the part where it all kind of falls apart for me is the jerky transitions.
I listened to this on audio book and had a really hard time figuring out where Case was at key moments. He kept getting bumped to places I wasn't aware he'd gone to and while I think a certain amount of that disorientation was intentional, it sacrifices coherency for the sake of flashiness. I get that Sci-Fi thrives of generating questions like "what's real and what isn't", but toward the end of the book I was prepping myself for it to have all been some drug/tech induced hallucination which both took me out of the moment and soured the endgame of the book for me. Less screwing with perception would have prevented that from happening.
Gibson has some great books out there and while the story for this one is pretty good it didn't do it for me as much as one of his other books might. (less)
Was going to type a long rant, but accidentally closed the window and am too lazy to get into all of it again. Long story short: I have never been a t...moreWas going to type a long rant, but accidentally closed the window and am too lazy to get into all of it again. Long story short: I have never been a teenage girl, so most of this character's emotional train of thought, and actual train of thought makes little to no sense to me. That would be fine if I didn't hate the writer's writing style so much. She shoehorns every synonym of shatter she can find in her thesaurus into her descriptions in a not subtle or mood setting way of driving home the decay, ruin, etc of the future, her cell and everything else she encounters. Some of the main character's bipolarity can be chocked up to being locked up but not enough to make her an interesting character.(less)
This book was a great book though not quite as good as "The Hunger Games" in my opinion. Katniss' inability to pick a guy and stick with him gets a bi...moreThis book was a great book though not quite as good as "The Hunger Games" in my opinion. Katniss' inability to pick a guy and stick with him gets a bit annoying in this book. She seems to like Peeta and Gale equally when neither is around, but as soon as she is near one or the other he's the guy for her, until he leaves and it's back to square one. I get that she's a little emotionally stunted, but she's smart enough to wonder whether she'd pick Peeta or not if it were her choice, so I don't buy that she's so out of touch with her emotions that she can't see what she's doing an make an effort to pick one, or stay with Peeta for appearances and stop stringing both of them along until she decides she's ready for something.
It's true she didn't promise Peeta anything, but she keeps asking things of him that she shouldn't if she didn't have any romantic feelings for him. It's made worse by the fact that Peeta is so nice to her and does so much to help her, yet she keeps mooning over Gale who barely talks to her. For his part, Gale is the typical Alpha male type, whose easily jealous, doesn't talk about his emotions, and thinks Katniss should pick him over Peeta but doesn't try to give her any reasons to do so.
I've done my best to avoid spoilers, but I'll need to get into that to do a full review, so you've been warned.
The general outline of this book was pretty predictable since I read it after the third book had been released so you knew they had to spend most of this book building up to a blow out spectacle of an ending. Experiencing the Hunger Games from the manager side would have been interesting, but wouldn't have really increaed the mounting tention all that much, so the only thing that seemed likely was another rebelion brewing. I'm not going to pretend that I saw everything coming but it wasn't hard to see how it would play out from a general sense.
The writing is skillful and has a certain business like quality that lends itself to the straigh forward Katniss. It's not a happy story but there is enough going on you want to ride out the storm for the triumphant climax. There are twists and turns, but at the end of the day it is a bit formulaeic. I think the main star of the series is the hunger games themselves and the arenas. Time spent away from them are not as well written in my opinion, but Collins writes action and tension well.
I recommend this book and the series itself to anyone who can handle a little gore and loves an interseting and intriging world.(less)
If you don't want to read a book where the main character loses all her personality and becomes a quivering mass of damaged...more**There will be spoilers.**
If you don't want to read a book where the main character loses all her personality and becomes a quivering mass of damaged parts I recommend you skip this book. I also recommend skipping it if you are on antidepressants or drink heavily.
This book has 2 focuses: The big picture focus is on the rebels and the war against the capital. The more specific focus seems to be how much shit can we pile on Katniss before she completely breaks? The author almost seems to be doing one of those QA inspection tests with the character seeing how much pressure she can take before she's completely broken. She also does this to Peeta during this book. They start Katniss off with brain trauma from the end of the second book, but never explain how the concussion she has has completely destroyed all her good qualities. One book she's strong, smart, and precise, the next she's a bumbling mental case that can barely manage wiping her own ass. For me at least, it made the book drag a lot and not that enjoyable. If I wanted to deal with whiny people who are losing their grip on reality I'd talk to some hipsters on acid.
In all honesty, after reading the first book I wish I had stopped reading the series. A world where 24 kids will murder each other every year is less depressing than what happened in the last book. The author raises some good and interesting questions throughout the book series, but I don't really see what the point of it is in the last book. I guess the closest point would be the old cliche "War is hell." but that could have been accomplished by the scenes in the first half of this book. The point where the author really loses me is when Katniss goes back to the hospital for the umpteenth time after getting shot. I already stopped liking her by then, but at that point I just wanted the series to end because I was tired of being depressed by the book. This book is written as though no good thing will ever occur in the world without someone adopting a puppy, torturing it, and then murdering it for the hell of it.
The story itself was good and I think it was paced pretty well if they removed all the hospital scenes. They'd have to return Katniss to the way she was before this book, before I'd consider raising the rank on this one.
TLDR version of the review: Katniss and Peeta hook up, Gale leaves for parts unknown (2), Snow, Coin, Finick, everyone on 541 (except 4 or 5 people), and Prim all die. There is one last hunger games played by the children of the most powerful members of the capital as revenge for the war which is voted against by Peeta, and voted for by Katniss and Haymitch (it gets approved). Everybody (who survives) lives miserably ever after more or less and suffers from extreme psychological problems.(less)
It's hard to put a score on this novel. I'll start first with the negative stuff since I prefer to close on a nice note. There will be spoilers, but I...moreIt's hard to put a score on this novel. I'll start first with the negative stuff since I prefer to close on a nice note. There will be spoilers, but I will try to minimize how much detail I go into about everything.
First thing that bugged me (and this is not entirely the book's fault) is that before reading the book I heard review after review saying how the Vietnam war, his experiences in the military, and his pacifistic nature influenced his novel. I don't really get a lot of that. I wasn't around for that war, but I am active duty Air Force and have deployed in support of the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know the Army's a bit different from the Air Force, and that's probably where he got a lot of his battle tactics for battles sections of the book, but beyond that I didn't see anything in the book indicating any real knowledge of the military.
One of the things that kind of annoyed me, was the basic training section with the mandated sex roster. I can assure you that when I went through basic almost nobody was having sex. A) It was forbidden since you were supposed to be there to get into military shape, and learn basic military info, B)No one person is ever alone long enough to do anything let alone two people from different training flights or squads(or whatever your branch equivalent for small unit is) and if by some miracle that happened neither would have a place private enough to do anything anyway, C) Even the most sexually active guys were only thinking of it as a fleeting afterthought if they could even muster the energy for that, D) The vast majority of guys in basic couldn't get an erection to save their lives (a lot of conspiracy theorists say it's cause they put something in the water during basic, but it's more because of the stress and everything else). I noticed something similar to this in Scalzi's "Old man's war" (though that's not the only similarity). It's not a direct translation, but there are many similarities between the two. Sadly Scalzi does a better job of telling a good story(in my opinion anyway).
The next problem I have with the book is the attitude with which it addresses drug use. I understand that drug use was rampant durring Vietnam, but it was still against the rules. I'm not sure if Mr. Haldeman thought that because everyone was doing it it would eventually be legalized, but it hasn't (at least not within the military community). His attempets at military humor "Fuck you, sir" and stuff like that fell flat for me. Maybe it just takes having been in a different type of military, but it just wasn't very funny to me.
I have mixed feelings about the way he handled the homosexual characters in the book. On the one hand they are all portrayed as relatively normal people, and not demonized or oversimplified into cliches. On the other hand he has the doctor make a pass at him indicating that she's really heterosexual she just doesn't know it, and then at the end has the clone offer to switch all the homosexuals to heterosexuals like flipping a switch if they want so that they can fit in with society. It's not clarified to the best of my memory if it's through genetic manipulation, or some sort of psychological reprogramming, but the insinuation that it was changeable seems to imply a certain amount of ability to change your orientation that most people don't believe to be present. I didn't at any point in my life stop and say "You know, I really want to find women attractive so I'm going to be heterosexual." It just happened. I assume homosexuality to be along those lines and any implication of being able to change something so core to who we are as people in such a simplified manner seems at the least disrespectful, if not something worse.
Lastly the thing that bothered me the most out of the whole thing was that he kept making Earth a worse place than when he left (from his character's perspective at least) until the last time he went home when all of a sudden everything is perfect. I get that there was probably some angst tied to the way Vietnam ended so abruptly and without answers and that's not what I'm asking for, but it feels like lazy writing to in that last 10-20 pages go yeah we're at war with society spiraling into decline, then war's over and the world is sun shine and rainbows. It's implied that they don't use money, but in a letter right after that someone mentions spending a ton of money on an item which leaves you wondering which is it? Is it a perfect communal world where everyone gets everything they want or do you still have to buy things? It's so contradictory and thinly fleshed out. The happy ending BS reaches critical mass with the last mini-chapter of the book. It's hard to take the rest of the story as serious after reading that.
Now for the good stuff. This was one of the older Sci-fi novels out there and it's easy to see a lot of it's influence on other modern novels specifically Scalzi's "Old Man's War". It introduced some interesting concepts like jump gate networks, light travels effect on time vs perceived time, societal rise and fall, militarism, and some other heavier sci-fi core elements. He does a good job of capturing the boredom of being in the military in a deployed location and the jarringness of going from 0-60 when the shit hits the fan. Most times when you are deployed you aren't really doing much. So when you get attacked you have to get up to peak performance quickly and it's not always as easy as you'd think, even with your lives on the line.
The adherence to physics and reality as much as possible was nice, as was the technological leap frog that went out throughout the book. There were times I would have like to skip the lecture on how thing 1 worked, but it was worth putting up with to have at least a few rules set up in this world.
The characters for the most part, were interesting and well written each seemed to have their own voice and experiences, making them more believable. The fact that the main character wasn't some laser toting Rambo is another nice bonus. It's nice to read stories where the main characters feel like normal people. I also liked that Mr. Haldeman had a high casualty rate set for these encounters. It's boring reading about an invincible army, or god of the battlefield so when you actually have to wonder which of these people is going to die it makes the story much more interesting.
The story itself was interesting, and the message behind the story was worth considering, though the implication that all wars are stupid seems oversimplified, and wrong to me. I won't argue that we fight way more wars than we should, or that it would be nice if we didn't have to worry about wars anymore, but to say that no war is appropriate is just stupid to me. I'm not even going to point to WW2, I'll point the civil war. I'm willing to bet there are a lot of African Americans that would say that that war needed to be fought in order to keep the US from becoming two separate countries with one allowing the enslavement and deprivation of personal liberties and freedoms to certain groups of it's citizens. I think that as a non-pacifist, I was never going to get or agree with the overall message of this book, but I still recommend it for it's huge contribution to Sci-fi, interesting characters and thought provoking concepts of possible future earths, if not for it's overall message.(less)
I think the first half of the book is close to 4.5 stars, while the last half starts at about a 4 and drops till it hits about 1.5-2. I'll do my best...moreI think the first half of the book is close to 4.5 stars, while the last half starts at about a 4 and drops till it hits about 1.5-2. I'll do my best to keep this spoiler free.
The First Half: It has a lot of the excitement and energy after the main character chooses the faction she wants to be part of (starting the initiate training that all factions do), but starts to lag after a time. The book has three story lines: The growing tensions between factions, The decisions what factions Beatrice or "Tris" will join (and subsequent efforts needed to gain membership in this faction), and Tris growth as a person as she goes through the changes from being a student to trying to earn a place in her chosen faction.
The author does a good job of keeping the various story lines moving at reasonable paces for the first half of the book. She focuses on Tris' efforts as an initiate in her faction and her personal growth from the challenges and experiences she has, while dropping little nuggets of the larger story here and there. She does it frequently enough that you don't forget that there's more going on that just Tris' initiation but not so much that it distracts from her as the main character.
Tris' personal growth is standard YA fare, but the characters she encounters are dynamic enough (for the most part) that it adds to the story. However most of that comes apart shortly after she enters phase 2 of her training.
The Second Half:
This is where the majority of the problems start to surface in the story. There are romantic angles that have been playing for a while, but it goes from cute and believable to ham fisted, pulp romance for junior high kids. I get that the characters are in their teens and that they are going to act irrationally from time to time, but most of the challenges encountered in the book are self fabricated, and (as a guy) most of the reactions by male characters in the story are not normal/believable even for that age range.
If the story had maintained its balance of personal growth, initiate progress, and faction conflict this would be easy to get past, but the author slams the breaks on the other sections so they crawl and are relegated to secondary position behind Tris' romantic feelings/growth which just isn't written well enough to make up for the loss of the excitement from the other sections.
As for the other story lines, there are spikes of excitement, but they are short lived and offer less and less refuge from the harlequin romance novel taking the place of growth portions of the story.
The biggest flaw of the second half (in my opinion) is where the author those to end the book. The book should have ended after the faction's final exam. After all the build up of how important getting accepted into the faction was and making it to the big moment, the author pretty much ignores the moment and skips the the next big thing as quickly as she can. It's the choice between a happy ending with pending dangers and unanswered questions (a good cliff hanger), or a depressing ending with most questions answered and high levels of danger, but some elements of closure in it.
On a side not I wasn't a fan of how the author portrayed the concept of killing and suicide. Given the situations the main character finds herself in I have a hard time understanding her perspective on one of those topics, and why it's to kill in one scenario (someone you know), but not ok to kill someone you don't. I'm not advocating that all heroes must be cold blooded sociopaths, but killing a person you don't know in order protect a loved one seems waaay easier to me, than the idea of killing someone you know well in order to save yourself.
If the book had ended earlier I'd probably read the second and possibly third book in this series because the writer has moments of being really good, and crafted an intriguing world, but as it stands I'm left with a dissatisfied taste in my mouth with most of my questions answered. The book doesn't tie up all its loose ends or anything, but it does tie up the ones I was most interested in. I will probably read a synopsis of the second book, but with the promise of more teenage over the top romantic chaos most assuredly waiting for me like land mines buried in the next book, I'll pass.(less)
This book appears to be heavily based on Battle Royale (a Japanese novel about a group of high school kids stuck on an island and forced to kill each...moreThis book appears to be heavily based on Battle Royale (a Japanese novel about a group of high school kids stuck on an island and forced to kill each other until there was only one left (the winner). That said, this book is much better. The action flows more smoothly, the story isn't jarred by constant shifting from character to character, you are actually give a reason for the games, and the main hero is much more compelling. That's not to say that Battle Royale isn't a good book, this is just a better version of what is basically the same thing.
I would recommend this book to most people. Older readers may not like it much, and anyone who's squeamish may want to skip this one since there are moments when the action gets a bit intense and a bit gory. Along that same train of thought, anyone thinking of reading this to your kids may want to read it themselves first, or just skip it depending on their age. Sadly, the first book and the second are the best while the last leaves a lot to be desired in my opinion, but I appear to be in the minority on that and even if you eventually agree with me on that, the other two books are well worth the read.(less)