I read this book in four hours. It's been a long time since I managed that trick, so there must have been something good about it, yes?
Katniss is...moreI read this book in four hours. It's been a long time since I managed that trick, so there must have been something good about it, yes?
Katniss is a wonderful heroine. She's not necessarily a wonderful person, but I get her, and thank god she spends the book wondering about how to save her own skin (and manages to do it, to boot). It's a YA book, so the characterizations, particularly beyond Katniss, often appeared to be a little flat. That's ok.
Yes, it is of course distressing to have a book built about a world in which children are made to slaughter each other for the joy of the television audience in the capital city. Understood. However. People who have raised objections--you do know that this has happened, right? Historically? Children being made to slaughter each other for the amusement of people who don't think of those particular children as human? You do know that adults are capable of the most appalling cruelty against children and commit those acts of cruelty every day, often for no other reason than their own enjoyment? I wish we were a species for which that was not true, and bless you for being so tender-hearted, but children--many of them--surely know this already. A world in which children are made to slaughter each other for many actual children living today would be no other than the planet they are already living on.
You yourselves, if you own disney toys or sparkly make-up or some brands of clothing, already own products made for your convenience by suffering children, so let's not be too precious about the child-violence angle. It is terrible. It's meant to be. If it makes you feel so horribly, stop buying chocolate, which is made by child-slaves.
What else I loved? The coal. Oh, how I loved the coal. Yes, of course, in a future in which the world's wealthiest countries have been absolutely ravaged by climate change, we would still be burning coal. Absolutely. That is exactly the kind of stupidity the human species would engage in. In this way it reminds me of Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker, another post-climate change dystopian novel where people still burn oil. Brilliant. Of course we would.
It's not a perfect book. It is YA fiction and I wasn't a keen fan of the first-person-present narrative; I felt it kept the story a bit shallower and more limited in perspective than it needed to be. I'm still looking forward to reading #2, and probably will polish that one off in about four hours as well. (less)
I read this book in about two and a half hours. Could not put it down.
I am not usually a reader of either mystery novels or pre/post apocalyptic ficti...moreI read this book in about two and a half hours. Could not put it down.
I am not usually a reader of either mystery novels or pre/post apocalyptic fiction. I figure we have enough of apocalypses and crime in our regular, day-to-day lives, thanks to the considered and thoughtful way we treat both our environments and our fellow human beings. But Winters has really found something that works with the story about Hank Palace, a young guy who finally made detective at the same time that scientists were able to confirm that a planet-destroying asteroid would make impact in six months. Hank takes conscientiousness well past the bounds of normal behaviour. He has always wanted to be a detective and, dammit, he is going to be a detective, asteroid be damned.
So while the world falls apart (slowly in the first book, but picking up steam in this one), Hank just goes around doing the right thing and trying to be a good person, solving crimes and helping people out whether he's supposed to or not. Meanwhile, some people are killing themselves, some are disappearing to live out their fantasies in their remaining time, some are stockpiling goods and weapons in the hopes they can somehow survive after the impact, and some are forming doomsday cults.
If this were a typical mystery novel about a missing husband, it would not be even remotely interesting. If it were yet another novel about an incoming asteroid and the brave men and women who try and either succeed or fail in saving the world from the impact, it would not be even remotely interesting. But what makes the book hum is the question underneath: what would you do if you had six or three months until you knew the world was going to end? How would you behave?
Winters proposes no answers on a large scale, except that people go on being who they already were. Selfish people spend less time hiding their selfishness; criminals have a free reign, and go on being assholes; and good people's goodness shines out a little more brightly, given the surroundings.
This is a very big book of very depressing stories. Read it in small doses.
The stories themselves are mixed, and range from classics that I'm glad to...moreThis is a very big book of very depressing stories. Read it in small doses.
The stories themselves are mixed, and range from classics that I'm glad to finally have a legal copy of (like Ursula le Guin's "The Ones Who Walked Away From Omelas"--any thinking, literate, even moderately leftish person should read this story at some point in their lives) to duds (Orson Scott Card is not a bad writer but his story in this collection, about an unfixable plague that reduces human life expectancy to the early-mid twenties as a biospheric reaction to what people have done to the planet, just doesn't work). Fortunately there were enough good stories from new-to-me authors to justify reading through the whole thing, front to back, in fifteen-minute lunch-break increments. "Red Card," "Amaryllis," "Dead Space for the Unexpected," "Jordan's Waterhammer" and "Resistance" were stand-outs.(less)
This was a tremendously fun book. I've never read any of Cherie Priest's novels before, but I'm glad I finally took GoodReads and Amazon seriously and...moreThis was a tremendously fun book. I've never read any of Cherie Priest's novels before, but I'm glad I finally took GoodReads and Amazon seriously and picked up this book they'd been recommending for me for years.
It has zombies (I'm not normally a zombie person) in this bizarre steampunk version of the wild west (and I'm not normally a western person), and in the midst of a gloriously odd cast of characters comes a single mom who's setting off to save her stubborn son. (less)