This was very clearly YA, but I loved this take on standard super hero stories. Interesting worldbuilding & magic (always!), although I didn't warThis was very clearly YA, but I loved this take on standard super hero stories. Interesting worldbuilding & magic (always!), although I didn't warm to the main character. (Probably because I am not the target audience.)...more
While I was reading this, I could not clearly remember all the characters/plotlines in Ship Breaker (which I read iThis is more like 3.5 stars for me.
While I was reading this, I could not clearly remember all the characters/plotlines in Ship Breaker (which I read in 2011), and I kept having the nagging feeling that there was some stuff I was missing because of that.
This book was okay. I like the sections about the DC metro area - there was one part where it talked about DC metro area commuters, underwater, which I heard as I was listening to this as an audiobook, while commuting in the DC metro area. (Meta!)
The worldbuilding was, as always, fascinating. The characters were a little dull & repetitive, which I am chalking up to this being a YA book. I felt like the allegory was laid on a little too thickly with all the historical artifacts & ephemera from the "accelerated age" US of A. It was interesting to spend more time with the child soldiers as people, instead of just a plot device. They reminded me of the terrorists from Bel Canto.
Overall this was okay - the audiobook reader was good also - but I suspect I will have trouble remembering character & plot specifics 2 years from now just as I do with Ship Breaker....more
I liked this novella - I didn't think I would until I got about 40-50 pages in and got used to the language and made up alien names. I liked Bult, theI liked this novella - I didn't think I would until I got about 40-50 pages in and got used to the language and made up alien names. I liked Bult, the satire needling bureaucracy & political correctness, and the alien world. I really liked the concept of exploration and surveying of alien worlds. I was not a big fan of the romantic subplot, which I thought was not very believable. ...more
I am going to say right now that this was one of those books that was not super great overall, but it came at a good time for me. The whole thing distI am going to say right now that this was one of those books that was not super great overall, but it came at a good time for me. The whole thing distinctly had the feeling of being an early season Star Trek TNG episode, where there is a very linear plotline and a very clear mission and every character has exactly one personality trait which makes them either a) GOOD or b) BAD. There is also a lot of moralizing on the part of the main character, who is not the brightest star in the galaxy. I kept waiting for them to discuss the Prime Directive but it never came up, since this is technically not a Star Trek book.
Thinking about this analytically, this was not a great book.
I listened to the audiobook version, which was 100% excellent at achieving its primary goal - it made me not think about the fact that I was driving in horrible traffic for 3 hours per day. And it was oddly mesmerizing, like a radio serial drama.
Some of the writing was downright bad - I wanted to take a red pen to it most of the time. But the battle scenes were great - realistic and time delayed, with relativistic distortion and lagging communications.
And it passes the Bechdel test, which was surprising for a military scifi book.
I liked this much more than I thought I would....more
I read this book very very quickly, the plot and worldbuilding were fabulous. One of the things that I really love about this book, and the author’s pI read this book very very quickly, the plot and worldbuilding were fabulous. One of the things that I really love about this book, and the author’s previous books, the Poison Study series, is how none of the worldbuilding is blatant or obvious, there are no infodumps, and you start out knowing nothing. You learn more about the world as the characters move around in it, but by the end of the book, you end up having a complete or nearly complete picture of the world, magic systems, etc.
The magic system in this was especially interesting - so many times in fantasy novels magic users can endlessly use their powers whenever they feel like it - I enjoyed this one because there was a cost associated with each use of magic - both in energy and in personal wellbeing. So even though the main character is a healer - she can’t heal everyone, and she has to take one the wounds and pain of her patients personally, herself. (I do wish that more actual nurses/doctors had to heal this way, I feel like they would be much more compassionate and not do so much digging for veins.)
The political intrigue didn’t quite do it for me, and the relationships between characters fell a little flat. I did not quite buy into Avry/Kerrick, although I DID really like Avry/Tohon. I loved that Avry’s little sister was not the picture of goodness and light....more
This was...not a good book. I picked this up because I heard the author give a talk about developing the laser featured in this book - and I really wiThis was...not a good book. I picked this up because I heard the author give a talk about developing the laser featured in this book - and I really wish this had been nonfiction, because the talk was interesting, but the book was not, for two reasons: characters and plot. The science was okay. I kept wanting to tell the author that it would be okay to write a book about lasers and have it be non-fiction. The characters and plot seemed pasted on.
I ended up hating every single character that was introduced, which was unfortunate, because it seemed as though there were thousands of them. This may be because I just finished reading this article: Ten Rules for Writing Fiction Books, but it grated on me that this book violated practically every single rule. It was irritating that people were constantly referred to by their whole names, first and last. The physical appearance of each character was covered in microscopic detail, but their personalities and motivations vis a vis the plot were given short shrift.
The plot involved some political machinations and sabotage, but it was never clear what the motivations were for sabotage in the first place. The ending was so predictable, it was practically visible from chapter one.
I listened to the audiobook version of this, which was also not great. The reader spoke in a monotone and had a habit of inserting awkward pauses that made me think the disk was over. (I was not looking at the display, since I was driving.) ...more
I know this book is YA, but MAN – it is a S-L-O-W moving plot. The action and plot could have been edited down to a book half the length. I actually lI know this book is YA, but MAN – it is a S-L-O-W moving plot. The action and plot could have been edited down to a book half the length. I actually liked the characters in this book (or, in the case of most of them, "appreciated", since they were despicable people), as opposed to the characters in this author’s other book, The Windup Girl.
I was not a fan of the dialogue – the prose was glowing and smooth, but all the dialogue was clunky and repetitive. In this, I am including both spoken dialogue, and Nailer’s internal dialogue, since the book is written from Nailer’s POV.
The plot accelerates at a glacial pace, with extensive examination of every event by all characters, several times each. I listened to the audiobook version of this, which was only 8 disks long, but felt SO much longer. The audiobook reader was very good, which made it easier to stick with.
The story and characters, boiled down, are actually very interesting – this is set in a far future society, I think the same one that The Windup Girl was in, but it’s not made clear. (Dystopian, or realistic? You decide, based on your assessment of environmental changes & global politics in the future.) One quibble with the far-future scenario that stood out to me: Bananas, which the main character eats, may not exist in the future. See also: Dan Koeppel, Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World
I liked the ending, and I liked the world, and I left this curious about what happens next for the characters. ...more
I really liked the setting of this story, and the concept of Deacons in general, and even Deacon Chambers in particular. I liked the magic system (altI really liked the setting of this story, and the concept of Deacons in general, and even Deacon Chambers in particular. I liked the magic system (although it reminded me a lot of the system used in Sabriel) – and I liked that there were formally trained magic users in addition to naturally occurring magic users. I liked the two talent trees of paladins – actives and sensitives. I liked most of the characters, who were complex and mysterious enough to hold my interest.
The only character I wholly disliked was Sorcha, or as she’s constantly referred to, Deacon Sorcha Faris – as though we as readers may forget her last name or rank if it’s not mentioned every few pages. Unfortunate, since she’s the main character. (Other things constantly mentioned: blue eyes, great hair, The Best Active, Like, Ever.) I thought she was unnecessarily egotistical and dismissive of any person or thing that wasn’t actively (ha!) useful to her. I found myself rooting for a geist to take her down in every battle scene. Deacon Sorcha Faris, who rolled an 8 on the Orphan Background Chart, spent the whole book being a jerk to her partner, her husband (clearly superfluous, he disappears after the first few pages), her boyfriend, and everyone else she had to work with. And for someone who is supposedly the best at what she does, she spent an awful lot of time being caught off-guard or shocked at the turn of events.
I REALLY liked most of the secondary characters. I wish the author had spent a lot less time rehashing Sorcha’s many attributes (Blue eyes! Great hair, which never stays in hair ties!) and a lot more time fleshing out the secondary characters, who all had intriguing backstories that were tantalizingly hinted at. Nynnia? I want to know so much more about her! The corruption in the order of Deacons? Merrick’s history? The Pretender’s family? How the Rossin came to be? What the heck is going on with Sorcha's husband? Talk about this!
I also REALLY liked the setting. A lot. Did I say that already? It reminded me a lot of the Diablo series, which I love. (WHEN IS DIABLO 3 COMING OUT? SERIOUSLY.) I liked the towns, the ships, the city, the people, the atmosphere, everything....more
I have to be honest - I would have NEVER picked up or even looked at this book had it not won the Compton Crook award. I think this is mostly due to tI have to be honest - I would have NEVER picked up or even looked at this book had it not won the Compton Crook award. I think this is mostly due to the cover - it's okay, but I think it does a disservice to the book - I was under the distinct impression that this was a military action book (with zombies) while it was MUCH more like a murder mystery (with zombies). I am a big fan of mysteries, and have read a lot of them, and I am ALSO a fan of scifi/fantasy - these two genres rarely meet. (Or rarely meet well.) I am not a fan of military action books - I think they tend to be monofocused and boring. (Action scene, action scene, action scene, BIG action scene, end.) I guess you could classify this as Urban Scifi?
It is unclear whether the events in this book take place in an alternate reality or a far future scenario - characters use things like iphones and ipads pretty much like people do now, but the possibility of nanotechnological and biotechnological enhancements are possible on a personal level. The society depicted utilizes a caste system - also just like now, but with numbered levels. The main characters, as far as I can tell (there are several perspectives presented) are a FBI agent and a police detective. (Also there are zombies.) Other perspectives feature a psychic and a prizefighter, although the FBI agent is by FAR the most interesting character.
I really appreciate, as a forgetful reader, that every time the viewpoint shifts to another character this is noted, with the current location.
The ending was a little bit of a copout, setting up the sequel, but the mystery was interesting....more
This really does read like the second half of Blackout, since it's one big book - which is great! My favorite kind of sequel - it dives right in exactThis really does read like the second half of Blackout, since it's one big book - which is great! My favorite kind of sequel - it dives right in exactly where the first book left off, with no recapping or summarizing. I do think a better place to split the two books would have been at the point where we hear from the present-day Oxford team again, but that's only my personal preference - since the first book starts from the Oxford perspective.
One criticism that I do have, which I will put here, although it really applies to both books in this duology - is that in Doomsday Book, the Oxford and historical chapters were much more evenly distributed. In these books, the lack of Oxford chapters really throws you in with the historians, so as a reader, I found myself caring much less about what happened in Oxford when bits and pieces of news did appear. When I was reading Doomsday Book, I was pretty equally invested in both timelines. With this series, I pretty much only care about the Blitz timeline. Which may be intentional - I care about these characters a LOT by the end of the series, and I got all weepy towards the end. But I also remember really liking Mr. Dunworthy, and feeling like he was not as fully present as the other characters in these.
This sort of wanders a little in the middle - by the time you get to page 300, you are getting kind of frustrated, as the reader - you have read through roughly 900 pages of this story and don't really know what is going on any more than the historians do. Throw the reader a bone and give SOME hints as to why the nets are not working!
I do really wish that I had read this prior to visiting London - there are definitely some places I am now very curious to know more about. (How much do the events in this book differ from real life events?) I attended a talk by the author at Balticon a couple of years ago where she was talking about all the research she had done for this book.
It is not fair to end a book on a cliffhanger like this! I need to read the sequel!! I stayed up until 2am to finish this book, and if I did not haveIt is not fair to end a book on a cliffhanger like this! I need to read the sequel!! I stayed up until 2am to finish this book, and if I did not have to go to work today, I would be reading the next one right now.
I picked this up at the library - I read Doomsday Book and LOVED it, but I didn't realize that it was part of a series! I was browsing for something else to read, read the inside flap of this one, and snatched it up. Same characters, some of them! Time travel! Awesome.
This book is also extremely good. I cannot think of a single character that I disliked. Even though this was split up among a variety of viewpoints, as a reader, I was rooting for everyone. I was pretty equally interested in everyone's story. I do think I would be deeply confused if I hadn't read Doomsday Book first - this book does not get into very much detail about the mechanism of time travel, the rules that historians have to follow. The constant references to how Mr. Dunworthy would have pulled the historians out in case of any trouble would definitely be confusing. I did get a little frustrated with the characters who all took SUCH a long time to realize that their drops were not working - something I figured out after the first time it was mentioned. It was also a little frustrating that some of the characters & storylines were dropped, and not picked up again in this book. (I assume they will be in the next one.) ...more
I had no expectations starting this book, I was pleasantly surprised. I did get about a third of the way through it, thinking it was a little YA beforI had no expectations starting this book, I was pleasantly surprised. I did get about a third of the way through it, thinking it was a little YA before realizing that it actually WAS YA. It was a nifty story, with potential for more in this universe based on the ending. Which was great! I liked the main character, Trella. I didn't really get the "Sheepy" conversations. I also wanted to know what happened to Cog? He didn't seem to be THAT important to Trella, although she talked about him a lot. And then, poof! Disappeared. Is he dead, or will he show up later? Maybe he was just an inconvenient character, getting in the way of the Riley + Trella triangle. This was good for a YA book. ...more
WOW. I really liked this. Such a great story! So many great characters! I met Connie Willis at Balticon a couple of years ago, but I had not read any oWOW. I really liked this. Such a great story! So many great characters! I met Connie Willis at Balticon a couple of years ago, but I had not read any of her books until now. Wow! I can't believe no one recommended this to me years ago, the story is right up my alley. I was equally interested in the story set in "modern" Oxford and the medieval Skendgate - I felt emotionally connected to the characters in both places. I want to buy this book....more